Balkinization  

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two notes on Citizens United

Sandy Levinson

I much admire Ian Ayres and Bruce Ackerman, but I can't imagine that their proposal would survive the current majority, for it is almost a textbook example of an "unconstitutional condition." Most liberals would be appalled if a conservative Congress tried to place such conditions on everyone who received some kind of federal aid and then said "well, you can always reject the aid." (Recall the huge controversy over the distribution of NEA funds., or requiring everyone who received federal aid to register for the non-existent draft.) One can, of course, readily agree that the Supreme Court got it wrong, even disastrously wrong, in Citizens United, but the rhetoric of Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion is a Hugo Black-like veneration for the text of the First Amendment and the illegitimacy of the state picking and choosing among "proper" speakers. Indeed, as someone who spent many years under Black's spell, I believe there is a real power to the argument, even though, at the end of the day, I would distinguish between "natural persons" and non-media-related corporations. (Would Ackerman and Ayres apply their suggestion to natural persons or partnerships who contracted with the US?)

I confess I am disturbed by President Obama's using the possibility that Citizens United protects "foreign corporations" as a battering ram (even though I am quite happy with his calling out the Supreme Court). Why shouldn't foreigners be entitled to contribute to the electoral dialogue? If one believes, as in the 1960s, that one ought to have some say with regard to decisions that concerns one's own life, then it is obvious beyond dispute that decisions made by the US government affect the lives of people all over the world. So long as there is adequate disclosure, why shouldn't foreigners have the same rights to weigh in on the merits of candidates as nationals? Indeed, would "we" (whoever "we" exactly are) really support limiting participation, and not only voting, in US elections to citizens? The answer, I hope, is absolutely not.

FURTHER COMMENT: The distinction between a "natural person" and a "corporation" allows bright-line application, even if it leaves us having to decide whether "limited liability partnerships" are closer to the former or the latter. There is, I suggest, no similar bright line as between an "American" and a "foreign" corporation, unless we go by the sheer formality of place of incorporation. But, obviously, many shareholders of "American" corporations are foreigners, and I assume the converse is true of "foreign" corporations, especially as sophisticated investors diversify their portfolio by investing in international mutual funds and the like. One might recall early attempts by the Supreme Court to figure out how to interpret "diversity" for jurisdictional purposes and whether it would require actually determining out who the shareholders of a particular company were (so that if even one shared the state of an opposing litigant, there was no diversity). Ultimately, the Court did settle on a wholly formal state-of-incorporation test. But the real point has to do with whether we should be so adamant about "protecting" the American political dialogue from ostensible "pollution" by hearing what outsiders have to say about our candidates. It is, of course, especially ironic that the United States would be so adamant given our repeated practices, over many years, of intervening in all sorts of ways in the politics of foreign nations.



Comments:

"I would distinguish between "natural persons" and non-media-related corporations."

Now, that gives me problems. The reason it gives me problems is that I don't TRUST a government run by incumbent politicians to be regulating speech concerning whether they get reelected, and it boggles my mind that the campaign 'reformers' are willing to extend that trust.

Distinguishing between media related and non-media related corporations is a judgment call. Any corporation can have a media-related arm. Just as we had the government looking at ads which rather blatantly did NOT urge the election or defeat of a candidate, and calling them sham issue ads, we'd have the government deciding which corporations claiming to be 'media related' really deserved to be treated as such.

And I would not expect, given the huge conflict of interest involved in the whole field being regulated, that those determinations would be in good faith. The mere whispered threat to make it in bad faith would be chilling.

Further, it doesn't strike me as a very defensible position. The 1st amendment does not protect "the press", a social institution. It protects the right of the people to USE "the press", an instrumentality for publishing. Just as we should not distinguish between professional authors and the guy who suddenly up and decides to publish a handbill, why distinguish between media corporations, and corporations which decided to get involved in media?

If corporations are to be extended 1st amendment rights at all, we should not distinguish between them.

Finally, just an observation: You got through this post without blaming something on our broken constitution! Bravo! ;)
 

If you (Sandy) distinguish between individuals and non-media-related corporations (a distinction I agree with, BTW), there shouldn't be any problem in distinguishing between resident aliens and foreign corporations. You run roughshod over this categorical difference between natural and legal persons by slipping them both into the term "foreigners." A similar category confusion is involved when you mention "one ought to have some say with regard to decisions that concerns one's own life" -- you're equating a natural person's life with whatever is its figurative analogue for a corporation. I for one think such an equation is morally wrong, but better that it should be made explicitly than by rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

As for overseas individuals (and media companies) having a say about US issues, they already do in their domestic venues. Before extending the privilege further, I'd like some reciprocity regarding, among others, China and India, whose economic growth policies are likely to hasten our collective starvation, inundation, or dessication.
 

re "foreign" corporations. There are, in fact, a number of companies incorporated in non-US jurisdictions where a majority (in some cases a vast majority) of shareholders are Americans: Nokia (Finland), J Ray McDermott (Panama), a couple of railroad companies (Canada).

I also agree it is curious that a party most often identified with internationalism (working with the UN, for instance) reverts suddenly to jingoistic rhetoric.
 

It's not clear to me that for purposes of the unconstitutional-conditions doctrine, government contracts should be treated the same as government aid. Certainly the First Amendment rules that apply to the government as employer are looser than those that apply to the government as regulator. Why shouldn't the same thing be true with respect to the government as contracting party?
 

Prof. Levinson:

There is, I suggest, no similar bright line as between an "American" and a "foreign" corporation, unless we go by the sheer formality of place of incorporation.

It can't be too much of a problem. Our sailboat is owned by a corporation, and this must be a U.S. corporation to be USCG registered. My wife has to have majority ownership of the corporation, as I am not a U.S. citizen. That's what the lawyer who does these things told us.

Cheers,
 

Brett makes some good points there.

I specifically don't find the "non-media-related corporations" exception convincing, since "the press" is not just "the MEDIA" as such. Likewise, since "speech" is protected too, why should "the MEDIA" (is the blog protected?) get special dispensation?

But, having read "Wrestling with Diversity," I see that the text of the First Amendment specifically might not be the end of the debate for you. Still, even reasoning it out, it is problematic, including line drawing issues.

The issue of foreign involvement is touchy, but I respect your overall sentiment -- given how much influence we have over foreigners (in various ways), it is downright piggy for us to deny them some means to contribute to electoral debates, at least in the sense of this case.

Anyway, "distinguish" or not, it still would be a matter of how much. Loads of cases protect non-media corporations (e.g., NAACP v. Alabama). Of course, this might go to the breadth of the ruling at hand.
 

"Can't vote, can't fund" nicely separates both corporations and foreigners from legitimate parties. I see neither lack of clarity nor definitional struggles. I also see no reason to pretend that cash is speech.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

I see no reason to pretend that ink and newsprint are "press", but you'd be hard put to publish a newspaper without them.

When you condition regulation of money on the content of the speech it's used to publish, it's just farcical to pretend that it's not speech that's being regulated.
 

"Can't vote, can't fund" nicely separates both corporations and foreigners from legitimate parties. I see neither lack of clarity nor definitional struggles.

Say a foreigner has a child here, making the child a citizen. Are you saying that citizenship (or is it residency?) suddenly means the person cannot contribute $10 for a cheap ad in the local paper about a school bond issue?

You don't have to be a citizen to be any number of things in this country, including a lawyer.

Also, "corporations" include nonprofits that promote some cause and media corporations. They too can't pay for a video, which you might download for $1 to help pay for the costs, on a candidate?

This is further than even the dissent in that ruling went.

I also see no reason to pretend that cash is speech.

Cash is not speech, but speech (and other things, like abortions) costs money. Limit how much you can spend, you at some point severely limit the right at issue.
 

In unpacking the concept of 'political speech,' particularly in the context of elections, where does one cross the line of diminishing returns in terms of quantity?

If a corporation buys up all the media time in a given market during a local election, when does the sheer quantity of a repeated message in favor of candidate A inhibit the speech of candidate B?

Ideally, don't we want two (or more) alternative messages/arguments, plainly stated, for due consideration by the public, who then make their choice?

For me, there is certainly a line beyond which the REPETITION of a message ceases to be 'speech' and becomes a both a psychological hammer and a physical barrier - due to occupying the limited media - to the publication of alternative ideas.

We all know that misleading (being generous) messages are often put on the air during campaign season. If we can't limit the content of these 'propaganda messages' due to ambiguity, isn't it good policy to at least limit the quantity through campaign spending limits that effectively open the door to competing messages?

Of course 'policy outcome' isn't a strong argument when discussing whether or not the First Amendment allows or does not allow certain restrictions. Reaching a constitutional result friendly to above discussion would require defining 'speech' in election contexts to end at the point it begins to drown out competing points of view. One's freedom to express and broadcast his view could not be restricted, however the monopolization of media used to convey political speech should be prohibited. As more and more money pours into campaigns, this issue will become increasingly relevant.
 

when you condition regulation of money on the content of the speech it's used to publish

But I didn't. Nor did anyone here.

The condition was on voting status, not content.

If your status is "can vote" (used to be called "citizen") you can spend all you want, talk all you want, and spend all you want pushing the talk you want.

No content filters here.
 

I think Citizens United is rightly decided. There's no real way to determine what is a "media" corporation, especially in the age of the internet. And even non-media corporations should get to speak-- Planned Parenthood, for instance, ought to be able to advocate abortion rights AND perform abortions.

The foreign corporation issue is a real problem and also easily facilitates the worst type of nativist rhetoric (Professor Levinson is right that it is quite troubling to have Obama and other liberals complaining about those damned furriners influencing our elections). But, in the end, the remedy for the foreign corporation problem is worse than the disease. You have to restrict a lot of straight-on political expression by interested Americans in order to protect against the hypothesized concern about foreign interests influencing our elections. No thanks.
 

Sandy:

Where do advocacy non-profits fit in your scheme? It seems to me they're much more like natural persons than profit-making enterprises for purposes of the First Amendment -- their political expenditures should be protected as if they were natural persons.
 

But, of course, McCain/Feingold did NOT distinguish between foreign and American corporations, while it did distinguish between money spent to publish your opinion of a sporting figure, and your opinion of a candidate for office.

So you're not merely wrong, you're comprehensively wrong.
 

The condition was on voting status, not content.

If your status is "can vote" (used to be called "citizen") you can spend all you want, talk all you want, and spend all you want pushing the talk you want.

But that doesn't help with the media issue. The New York Times can't vote. Do you think it would be constitutional for Congress to outlaw newspapers endorsing candidates (perhaps on the theory that newspaper endorsements are too influential)?

But wait -- what if I want to publish a book right before the 2004 election saying, "George Bush is the most evil and incompetent person ever to hold the presidency"? Sure, I can self-publish -- but if I head over to MacMillan and try to get it published through them, Congress can ban it? Kagan tried to disavow the government's previous claim that Congress can ban books, but there's obviously nothing in the Constitution that treats books differently than movies.
 

And it's still content based, because the law applies if you're talking about candidates, and not if you're talking about figure skaters.
 

The New York Times can't vote. Do you think it would be constitutional for Congress to outlaw newspapers endorsing candidates (perhaps on the theory that newspaper endorsements are too influential)?

The second part was can't fund, not can't endorse.
 

Say a foreigner has a child here, making the child a citizen. Are you saying that citizenship (or is it residency?) suddenly means the [parent] cannot contribute $10 for a cheap ad in the local paper about a school bond issue?

Of course not; he can become a citizen. It takes a lot of work and waiting, but it's something Blackwater can never do.
 

You don't have to be a citizen to be any number of things in this country, including a lawyer.

That's because we hold the franchise in higher esteem :-)

My apologies, but you walked right into that one.
 

what if I want to publish a book right before the 2004 election saying, "George Bush is the most evil and incompetent person ever to hold the presidency"? Sure, I can self-publish -- but if I head over to MacMillan and try to get it published through them, Congress can ban it?

The second part is don't fund, not don't publish. Fund means external funding. If you can vote however the vanity press is open to you.
 

Yup, that's the point: To deprive people of limited means of the ability to pool their resources to be heard.
 

Also, "corporations" include nonprofits that promote some cause

Gosh, you wouldn't want to shut down the Cancer Society, would you?

The truth is, if you could shut down Philip Morris's cash to the legislature, Cancer wouldn't need its lobbying budget any more.

If you take out all similar cases, and all cases where we're talking about campaigns that are not cash to influence politics, there's not a lot left.

The idea that we have to let corporations buy the legislature because otherwise nonprofits would be silenced, doesn't stand up to examination.
 

To deprive people of limited means of the ability to pool their resources to be heard.

What?

Can they vote?

Then they can pool.
 

After a certain point, simulated obliviousness must lose whatever appeal you thought it had.

You don't shut people up to promote debate, you shut them up to shut them up. McCain/Feingold didn't target interest groups people of limited means use to go toe to toe with the media corporations and parties by accident. It did so intentionally.

Because they irritate the hell out of politicians, by bringing up subjects they'd rather not talk about, by backing challengers groups with more mercinary motives are too risk averse to mess with.

They weren't the collateral damage of McCain/Feingold, they were the real target.
 

It's still content based, because the law applies if you're talking about candidates, and not if you're talking about figure skaters

If that were true, then limits on shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater would also count as content based. After all, it wouldn't apply to shouting "figure skaters!" I'll readily admit that.
 

The second part was can't fund, not can't endorse. ...and... The second part is don't fund, not don't publish.

Either you're agreeing with Citizens United -- which was not about "funding" candidates at all -- or you misunderstand badly. When the New York Times uses its column-inches to endorse a candidate, that is spending money.
 

Ok, so according to replies, it is clear that:

(1) A long time alien resident, even if s/he has a child is a citizen "of course" can't even spend $10 toward an campaign ad.

Maybe, they can march or something, though that too pressures politicians, so maybe not.

(2) But, hey, it's okay for the person to be a lawyer, hold various public service jobs, et. al. Because we care more about the person spending that small sum than defending the rights of some child or person on death row or deal with public in various ways.

This is supposed to be a joke on me.

(3) We won't have cancer if we don't allow corporations to pay for videos about candidates. Or something. It's hard to avoid sarcasm here.

(4) The part about endorsing ... this case is not about "funding" but having their say. Newspapers do this, including by speech. As the Daily Howler notes, the media, corporate influenced in many ways, played a major role in screwing Gore over in 2000.

(5) Contra to precedent et. al. we are not talking about liberty here or even rights of citizenship. The focus is "voting." Thus, those students in Tinker, not covered, since they can't vote. Felon disenfranchisement? The effects are worse. Oh, in 1900, women often couldn't vote, so they too couldn't spend.

(6) I'm not sure if citizenship is required to be allowed to pay for other rights, such as as I noted, abortion.

(7) I might be able to speak on my cell phone at a play ... if it is about figure skaters.

Seriously, you can scream "fire" if there is a fire ... the screaming is allowed because there is a legitimate reason, content neutral ... you can also scream "figure skater" when that exists too, perhaps if one is about to crash into you or something.
 

Joe:

Ok, so according to replies, it is clear that:

(1) A long time alien resident, even if s/he has a child is a citizen "of course" can't even spend $10 toward an campaign ad.


Actually we can ... and I have.

Cheers,
 

When the New York Times uses its column-inches to endorse a candidate, that is spending money

Why of course; it's the same as cash for candidates.

And horses are the same as pigs except for the wings, except in December.
 

you can scream "fire" if there is a fire ... the screaming is allowed because there is a legitimate reason, content neutral

Fascinating; so now the speech has to be factually accurate. No doubt that's the test you propose for political speech. I accept. I'm fine with adding that to "can't vote, can't fund". The latter will be easier to define and enforce, but the former has merit too.
 

So now saying you like candidate "X", or don't like candidate "Y", or simply reciting candidate "Y"'s unpopular record, is the same as fraudulently yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. (They always leave out the "falsely", I suppose because they want to pretend it was an excuse to regulate non-fraudulent speech.)

You always reach a point talking with the campaign 'reformers' where their contempt for the whole concept of free speech becomes starkly obvious. It never has been about anything but shutting up people saying things they don't want heard,
 

Why of course; it's the same as cash for candidates.

Again, if by "cash for candidates" you mean contributions to candidates, then you misunderstand the issue in Citizens United, which was about independent spending, not contributions.

If you mean to include independent spending, then, yes, it's exactly the same. If you don't understand how buying ink and newsprint and paying people to distribute it to homes is no different than buying cameras and video and paying people to distribute it to homes, then you're confused in a different way.
 

Wherever he is, does Justice Black have a big smile on his face?
 

Thank you.
 

Regarding Justice Hugo Black, since my earlier comment it has come to my attention that in his 1938 dissent in Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. v. Johnson, 303 U.S. 83-87, he stated:

"Neither the history nor the language of the Fourteenth Amendment justifies the belief that corporations are included within its protection. The records of the time can be searched in vain for evidence that this Amendment was adopted for the benefit of corporations."

Speech/press was not in issue in that case. If it were, Justice Black might have struggled with his understanding of the meaning of "NO" where the First Amendment was involved.
 

Arne, my reply as a whole hopefully suggested I was being sarcastic. But, maybe not. Anyway, clearly you are part of the problem.

jpk continues to selectively attack windmills with assured sarcasm:

Fascinating; so now the speech has to be factually accurate.

I'm unsure I said that as a general principle, but yes, in the theater context, the test is "falsely" crying fire, so you have there at least think it's accurate.

No doubt that's the test you propose for political speech. I accept.

My view on proper speech in theaters is directly applicable to political speech? Huh? Oh, and no. that's not "the test" I would propose. See, e.g., NYT v. Sullivan, which required "actual malice."

I'm fine with adding that to "can't vote, can't fund".

Well, it would have the added benefit of not being quite as discriminatory. Since a lot of what is said here is not "factually accurate," it will also cut back on comment threads.

A lot more speech won't be put out there, of course, but speech is overrated anyway.
 

As to Shag's last remark, see the dissent here, including:

"Some may think that one group or another should not express its views in an election because it is too powerful, because it advocates unpopular ideas, or because it has a record of lawless action. But these are not justifications for withholding First Amendment rights from any group -- labor or corporate."

The majority in Citizens United noted such dissents (Truman also opposed the law there) but Stevens noted they were after all dissents. OTOH, it does help answer the "only conservatives" mantra.
 

So now saying you like candidate "X", or don't like candidate "Y", or simply reciting candidate "Y"'s unpopular record, is the same as fraudulently yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Sure would be, had anyone said it.

Enjoy your straw men! I hear they're fun to play with. Shrub sure loved his.
 

Citizens United was about independent spending, not contributions

I use "candidates" broadly; it does not exclude political campaigns nor alleged independent spending.

Did you think "cash" was meant to exclude checks?
 

What's missing in all this discussion is Agnotology

The Founders thought the solution to bad speech was more speech. The idea was more speech shed more light. It was a good idea. For much of our history it worked pretty well.

But it has not fared well against agnotology. And cash is a basic tool of agnotology. With more cash we will see more agnotology. It will be sophisticated, it will be effective, it will spread ignorance, and in the end, it will buy law.

It's not that cash doesn't have advantages already, but now it will be better able to buy law. This seems regrettable.
 

jpk:

Thanks for the link to "Agnotology." Before linking to the site, Spiro Agnew came to mind as perhaps the root of this strange term. PR, or "spin," has long been the game play of money in politics and other forms of marketing. In fact, don't we practicing attorneys employ "Agnotology" in the adversary system fairly routinely? And don't SCOTUS Justices sometimes engage in "junk history"? Perhaps Citizens United will spur (and revive) the economy as more and more of our best and brightest decide to become Agnotologists. Of course, "Agnotology" could become the next bubble. Let's give it spin, though.
 

"I use "candidates" broadly; it does not exclude political campaigns nor alleged independent spending."

Hope you're paying those words a premium, seeing as you're forcing them to do work that's not in their resume.

Oh, and "Agnotology"; What a fancy way of saying, "I want to shut people up who might be more persuasive than me."
 

Promptly following the Citizens United decision, H-LAW featured more than usual lively discussions (at times contentious), including more recently as the subject "Origins of Corporate personhood under the 14th Amendment. Included is a chapter from Jack Bass' from his upcoming book "Justice Abandoned" to be published next year. There is an interesting commentary by Clyde Spillenger (UCLA Law) on the originalist inquiry of whether the 1st Amendment applies to corporations focusing on Stevens in dissents versus Scalia in concurrence.

(I assume some of the visitors to this Blog are on H-LAW lists.)
 

What a fancy way of saying, "I want to shut people up who might be more persuasive than me."

Oh! What a charming way of saying you don't get it. Lovely!
 

don't we practicing attorneys employ "Agnotology" in the adversary system fairly routinely?

Oh, you're pikers :-)

Seriously, there's no comparison, despite surface similarities. It's like the difference between weather and climate. Agnotology would be climate: pervasive forces that shape the perceptions of millions. If you've done that in a courtroom, I want to see it :-)
 

HLAW disccusion . . . whether the 1st Amendment applies to corporations

I'd love to see a summary of the discussion, in lay terms. Thanks.
 

No, I get it. By bringing up "Agnotology", you've admitted that your concern is that the speech in question might influence public opinion. But influencing opinions isn't "corrupt", it's the very POINT of speaking. The fact that public opinion may be shifted by speech in a direction you consider undesirable doesn't change that; Who ever tried to censor speech they approved of?

Campaign 'reformers' started out, in the beginning, with a commonsense observation that a campaign donation, direct to the candidate, could be a disguised bribe. (That it could also be disguised extortion by the candidate was inconvenient to acknowledge, given that you were seeking legislation.) But you have since, by degrees, sought to reach conduct ever more remote from that real corruption. Now you're trying to silence speech, on the basis that it might influence public opinion in ways you don't approve of. And you're still trying to pretend you're attacking "corruption"!

You're not crusading against corruption, you're just trying to silence people saying things you don't want heard. If there was ever anything more to the cause, it's gotten lost. You've lost sight of the fact that corruption isn't defined as, "Anything I don't like."
 

Brett seems too positively emphatic with this:

"But influencing opinions isn't 'corrupt', it's the very POINT of speaking."

But influencing opinions CAN - MAY - be corrupt - or corrupting, such as when practiced by Hitler's propaganda machine (as well Joe Stalin's Soviets), the POINT of which was to corrupt.

I'm not suggesting that as a result of Citizens United speech WILL be corrupt or corrupting. But it could be. That's the fear. Consider the relatively young "profession" of public relations over much of the 20th century, especially commercial speech, that required pure food laws, that resulted in imposing limitations upon tobacco products for reasons of health. Libel laws cannot provide adequate protection against speech that is propaganda, lies, etc. An absolute free speech/press right has potential for dangers.
 

No, I get it. By bringing up "Agnotology", you've admitted that your concern is that the speech in question might influence public opinion.

When your utterances present compelling evidence that you don't get it, whining that you do too is less than compelling. Particularly when you both are in the same paragraph.

Please do believe whatever you like. The things that won't change to fit your beliefs, the rest of us call "facts".
 

Shag, the mistake is lumping together influencing opinions by informing, and influencing opinions by creating ignorance. Both are influencing opinion but they're hardly the same thing.

Now: turns out it's much more expensive to influence opinion by creating ignorance. It can take a lot of cash. But when cash is free to do this, it can be done. Hell, we don't have to speak hypothetically: it has been done, and effectively.

The Founders knew that some speech would be used badly but thought the more speech, the more light would be shed. What they didn't foresee was the mass scale engineering of ignorance. And its enabler, cash.
 

I don't think there's any useful constitutional distinction to be drawn between "influencing opinion by informing", and "influencing opinion by creating ignorance". The latter merely expresses your belief that somebody is saying things that are wrong. We're not talking about content free mind control rays that erase people's neurons, after all. (THAT wouldn't have any 1st amendment protection!)

But mistaken expressions have all the protection of accurate expressions. It MUST be that way, for those who want the truth suppressed will always call it a lie.

The truth doesn't prevail by silencing lies, it does so by overcoming them.

Bottom line, you just don't like freedom of speech, because it lets people say things you don't agree with. Of course, you doubtles are saying things other people don't like, too. Why are you so sure that, once you've forged this sword to destroy lies, lies won't pick it up, and dispatch truth with it?
 

Does this have a reciprocal?

"But mistaken expressions have all the protection of accurate expressions. It MUST be that way, for those who want the truth suppressed will always call it a lie."

That those who tell lies (well beyond mistaken expressions) will claim the truth of the lies over and over and over again because of available funding, in effect to suppress the truth.
 

If I have to chose between somebody who "suppresses the truth" by saying something untruthful, while allowing the truth to still be told, and somebody who "suppresses lies" by forcing people to shut up, I'll pick the former every time. Because if you set up a mechanism to do the latter, what the hell makes you think it's the people telling the truth who will end up in control of it?

And if the person setting up that mechanism swore an oath to uphold a Constitution which included the 1st amendment, they've already established that they're a liar.
 

Brett,
Saying something "untruthful" is not the same as telling a lie. If speech is not falsely yelling fire in a crowded theatre, then perhaps falsely yelling lies backed up with plenty of loot to hog the airwaves, etc, just before an election is not speech. Allowing the truth to still be told may require lots of money that may not be available to compete with the corporations that can afford to lie. You seem to prefer lies over the truth as a practical matter because of the potential role that money plays. We're not talking about mistaken impression; were talking about lies. Perhaps you are relying upon Seinfeld's George Costanza's philosophy "It's not a lie if you believe it." What you set up in this paragraph:

"If I have to chose between somebody who 'suppresses the truth' by saying something untruthful, while allowing the truth to still be told, and somebody who 'suppresses lies' by forcing people to shut up, I'll pick the former every time. Because if you set up a mechanism to do the latter, what the hell makes you think it's the people telling the truth who will end up in control of it?"

fails to fairly address the potentials. I wonder what Noam Chomsky has to say about this?
 

I don't think there's any useful constitutional distinction to be drawn between "influencing opinion by informing", and "influencing opinion by creating ignorance".

Of course you don't. You don't get it. How plain do you want to make this?
 

The truth doesn't prevail by silencing lies, it does so by overcoming them.

That was the Founder's idea, and it has worked well for a long time and in many contexts. In general it still works.

But agnotology offers an example of where it doesn't work. And cash is agnotology's best friend and key enabler.
 

George Costanza's philosophy "It's not a lie if you believe it."

Heh. Seinfeld kept insisting it was "a show about nothing" but in fact it explored some pretty deep stuff.

Twain said "Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever." I think Seinfeld got that.
 

"But agnotology offers an example of where it doesn't work."

It never worked in the opinion of people who were losing arguments. I ask again: What makes you think, if you create a mechanism to silence lies, that it will not be run by the liars, to silence the truth?
 

What makes you think, if you create a mechanism to silence lies

What makes you think that if you offer up straw men, they're real? Or that anyone will pretend they are?

No one's proposed a mechanism to silence lies. Dance with your straw men yourself. No one else is interested.
 

Now: turns out it's much more expensive to influence opinion by creating ignorance. It can take a lot of cash. But when cash is free to do this, it can be done. Hell, we don't have to speak hypothetically: it has been done, and effectively.

Well, you've been trying to do it throughout this thread, but I wouldn't call it "effective." Except in making you look childish. If you can't effectively engage with the people pointing out how you fail to grasp the issues being discussed, then just post one-liners about how people "don't get it," if it will make you feel better. But it won't change the fact that the law attempted to ban speech, and that the Constitution does not say, "Except if JPK doesn't like the speech."
 

you've been trying to do it throughout this thread, but I wouldn't call it "effective."

Give me 18 million dollars and perhaps I can do better. Remember: I don't have to convince you. I just have to sway a certain percentage over time. Often all I have to do is confuse 'em, get 'em to doubt both sides. That's the game. It's not about shedding light.
 

Today's (2/4/10) LATimes has an Op-Ed by Larry Lessig titled: "The Floundering Congress - Its pathological reliance on campaign cash demands a radical change to the corrupt machinery" critical of Pres. Obama's failure on reform he campaigned on. While this article makes no reference to Citizens United, Lessig's The Nation 2/22/10 article (of which the Op-Ed is a short version) does; there Lessig says:

"But we also need to begin the process to change the Constitution to assure that reform can survive the Roberts Court. That constitutional change should focus on the core underlying problem: institutional independence. The economy of influence that grips Washington has destroyed Congress's independence. Congress needs the power to restore it, by both funding elections to secure independence and protecting the context within which elections occur so that the public sees that integrity."

Sandy may follow with a post on this as part of his urge for a constitutional convention. But what is clear is that Citizens United superimposed upon the long existing problems with Congress described by Lessig may result in disuniting citizens. Money talks; Congress listens to the "KA-CHING!" That's my conventional wisdom. Back to Sandy.
 

I failed to mention in the preceding comment that Lessig's Op-Ed provides a link to his The Nation article (which runs 5 pages). Unfortunately I am not adept at providing the link to his LATimes Op-Ed so Google.
 

Yes, I heard Lessig is proposing to amend the 1st amendment. So far he's keeping the details secret, or maybe he just can't figure out an amendment that would do what he wants, and not be too obviously a simple repeal of the 1st.

The basic problem with Lessig's approach to the topic, which is shared by most campaign reformers, is that they fail to take seriously that Congress can, through it's actions, be the problem, every bit as much as it could be a source for solutions. The elephant under the bed is that Congress is made up of incumbent politicians, and letting incumbent politicians have any say AT ALL over what can be said about them during campaigns is a conflict of interest of astronomical proportions.

I don't believe it's an accident that, as campaign 'reforms' have progressed over the last few decades, the reelection rate has been climbing. You'd be hard put to identify a 'reform' coming out of Congress that didn't somehow secure an advantage for incumbents over challengers.
 

I can agree substantially with Brett on this:

"You'd be hard put to identify a 'reform' coming out of Congress that didn't somehow secure an advantage for incumbents over challengers."

I taught a corporations/shareholders tax course for a number of years in the late '70s, early '80s, and would start the first class stating that I had taken my first federal tax course in 1953; that this was followed by the major revision of the IRC in 1954; that later there were a number of tax laws enacted with titles that included the word "reform." There were a lot of "reforms" but the federal tax laws remained too complicated. So "reform" may be in the eye of the incumbent Congressman beholden to campaign contributors. But keep in mind that if a challenger is successful, he/she is then very shortly infected with incumbency.

I imagine a constitutional convention as a constitutional tower of babble. But originalism is not a resolution for living with the 200+ year-old Constitution that brung us where we are today.
 

Jack has just posted a rather appalling blog by NYT's Robert Wright decrying the inability to censor political speech of groups of citizens on the internet:

Had technological change stopped in 1950, President Obama would be basking in the glow of victory. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies and labor unions posed challenges to health care reform, but their challenges were manageable, and as of a few weeks ago Obama had found a sausage recipe that these groups could stomach.

But technological change didn’t stop in 1950...

The personal computer, the Internet and allied technologies have given a new fluidity to political opposition, spawning interest groups almost overnight in response to policy initiatives.

Hence the Tea Partiers...they’re clusters of people who share a political perspective and can convene only because of the nearly frictionless organizing technology that is the Internet. Some aren’t themselves activist, but most provide a kind of sustenance to activists who carry their banner...

The new information technology doesn’t just create generation-3.0 special interests; it arms them with precision-guided munitions. The division of readers and viewers into demographically and ideologically discrete micro-audiences makes it easy for interest groups to get scare stories (e.g. “death panels”) to the people most likely to be terrified by them. Then pollsters barrage legislators with the views of constituents who, having been barraged by these stories, have little idea what’s actually in the bills that outrage them.

It’s no exaggeration to say that technology has subverted the original idea of America. The founders explicitly rejected direct democracy — in which citizens vote on every issue — in favor of representative democracy. The idea was that legislators would convene at a safe remove from voters and, thus insulated from the din of narrow interests and widespread but ephemeral passions, do what was in the long-term interest of their constituents and of the nation. Now information technology has stripped away the insulation that physical distance provided back when information couldn’t travel faster than a horse.

It’s no exaggeration to say that technology has subverted the original idea of America.
I don’t see a miracle cure here. It would be hard to restore much of the insulation without tampering with the First Amendment.


Mr. Wright takes the position of the classically conservative Founders in favor of a representative republic rather than a direct democracy and bastardizes it into a claim that the founders did not want representatives to follow the will of their constituents.

Then Wright decries the internet for providing the greatest advance in political speech since the printing press by allowing average citizens to organize and speak directly to one another and to their representatives without the filters of a media dominated by fellow liberals.

Wright concludes that, if it weren't for that damned First Amendment, we could muzzle the citizenry and allow Obama and Congress to do what they please.

Jack cites the blog approvingly, but sidesteps the censorship issue by arguing that Obama was "not too much democracy" so much as the filibuster requiring a super majority. The problem with this theory is that the Senate could not have reached 45 votes for Obamacare if the Senate was acting at all democratically and voting the will of their constituents.

Actually, both Jack and Wright missed the real turning point. What stopped Obamacare was not the communication of the citizenry to Congress. We were at every town hall meeting, called, faxed, emailed, mailed and marched on every town and the capital itself. Congress knew damn well that its constituents opposed what they were doing. Rather, it was the ability of citizens to organize across the country on the internet and nationalize the MA Senate election to send Brown to the Senate.
 

Our intrepid former backpacker plays Mr. Wrong to Mr. Wright. And he says:

"We were at every town hall meeting, called, faxed, emailed, mailed and marched on every town and the capital itself."

What was it Tonto said to the Lone Ranger's "we" being in trouble? Where were the "we" of this claim during Bush/Cheney's 8 years? Perhaps during those 8 years the "we" went "wee-wee, all the way home" content with Bush/Cheney's doings that led to the ought eight financial and economic crises. These "we" know what they can do with their tea bags as they try to create hot water to steep their juices in.

By the way, our intrepid former backpacker joined the "we" on 1/20/09.
 

The idea that tea-baggers are "we" is a mistake. A natural mistake, as the purpose of the group is to project exactly that image. That's how astroturf works.

This particular astroturf is a creation of Dick Armey and Fox, and is a lobby for big business. There's no "we".
 

Could Adobe Reader load up a political ad in favor of the Democratic Party every time it was asked to open up a file, even if the file type itself is associated with and approved by the federal government?
 

Yes, any popular movement opposed to you must be the result of artifice.
 

The idea that tea-baggers are "we" is a mistake. A natural mistake, as the purpose of the group is to project exactly that image. That's how astroturf works.

This particular astroturf is a creation of Dick Armey and Fox, and is a lobby for big business. There's no "we".

Uh, no. You don't even understand the concept of "astroturf." "Astroturf" is when there's a fake movement purporting to consist of (for lack of a better term) "ordinary citizens" but which actually is a handful of paid lobbyists/PR people.

"Freedomworks" may have helped publicize or even inspired the tea partiers, but they really exist. Go to one of their rallies, and you'll see them. They're not paid employees of Freedomworks. (And they aren't taking marching orders from Dick Armey, or "lobbying" for anybody.)
 

jpk said...The idea that tea-baggers are "we" is a mistake. A natural mistake, as the purpose of the group is to project exactly that image. That's how astroturf works. This particular astroturf is a creation of Dick Armey and Fox, and is a lobby for big business. There's no "we".

I was hoping we in the Tea Party movement could remain under the radar until just before the 2010 elections. The Dem media had been ignoring or dismissing us since last February and disregarding the devastating losses in VA and NJ as merely local affairs.

Unfortunately, the Tea Party driven Brown upset of the generation in the deepest blue state of MA appears to have awoken most Dems to facts that the Tea Party movement is very real, national in scope and getting better organized and larger every day.

Pat Cadell was on the tube tonight saying that this is the largest grass roots effort he has seen since the Vietnam anti-war movement. From someone on the left, that is high praise. However, I would note that we are far more numerous, dress better and bathe more regularly than the flower power folks. ;^)

Hell, if the Dem news magazine which deliriously declared last year on its cover that "We are all socialists now" has finally discovered the Tea Party movement, I doubt we are going to sneak up on anyone anymore except for the most deluded.
 

David is absolutely right. It's only the leadership (provided by GOP operatives), and communications (provided by Fox). The followers are provided overwhelmingly by the masses of the dim-witted that abound in our country today.
 

Here's our intrepid former backpacker on the self delusion of the tea baggers::

" ... I doubt we are going to sneak up on anyone anymore except for the most deluded."

While tea baggers may be sneaky, they got a tad too much camera time quite quickly to sneak up on anyone. But tea bags are quickly spent as they attempt to create hot water from their own hot air. Perhaps our intrepid former backpacker will enhance his specialty practice representing clients tea-bagging under the influence, or T-BUI.
 

C2H50H said...David is absolutely right. It's only the leadership (provided by GOP operatives), and communications (provided by Fox).

:::chuckle:::

You have it completely backwards. The GOP does not run the Tea Party movement, the Tea Party movement is working to take over the GOP and run out the RINOs.

The leaders in the El Paso and Teller County groups I attend are a housewife and a small businessman.

The highest ranking "GOP operative" I have seen at one of our meetings was a precinct delegate we had speak to us about how to get elected as precinct delegates ourselves to choose Colorado's GOP candidates. Generally, the GOP establishment is very leery of us because it is their jobs which are in danger.

I was more than a little surprised to hear Boehner say yesterday that the GOP's positions were the same as the Tea Party. Apparently, the GOP is joining us. Wise move.
 

I was more than a little surprised to hear Boehner say yesterday that the GOP's positions were the same as the Tea Party. Apparently, the GOP is joining us. Wise move.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:22 AM


Baghdad, why weren't you protesting during the Bush/Cheney years when the GOP was driving the country into the mess we are currently in?
 

Bart,

Imagining that those screaming the loudest will get their way is both childish and not very intelligent.

That there's a large population out there susceptible to populist appeals is beyond question. Unfortunately, it's fractured into many groups all with distinct and often contradictory goals.

Here's a prediction: if the tea party groups manage to coalesce into an organization that can do more than raise a cacophony of noise, the result will resemble the Democratic party far more than the Republican party. In other words, beset by constant in-fighting, people going AWOL at critical points, co-opted themselves by opportunists and corporate interests, and unable to effect any coherent platform -- not that the tea-party folks could come up with a coherent platform in the first place.

I'll come back in a year and remind you of this.

The fact is that corporations and moneyed opportunists today (and even more tomorrow, thanks to Citizens United, an oxymoron if there ever was one) have an inherent advantage in swaying public opinion, thanks to their ability to spend and their nearly-complete lack of conscience or morals, and their very circumscribed goal, namely to make money.
 

Bartbuster said...

BD: why weren't you protesting during the Bush/Cheney years when the GOP was driving the country into the mess we are currently in?

I posted my opposition to every Bush domestic spending proposal here. I recall, that I said that he was spending like a drunken Democrat. Little did I know that Obama would make Bush look like Mr. Frugality.

The difference between the Bush and Obama years is that we are now in very real danger of national insolvency within a decade. The markets have been sliding on the threat that Portugal, Spain and Greece are facing imminent insolvency and that the United States is heading on the same path. I do not want to retire into the US equivalent of post-Peron Argentina.

You are free to maintain your personal fantasies, but the Tea Party rebellion is a conservative and not a GOP movement.

You will notice that polling shows a large and growing approval for the Tea Party which is far larger than both the Dems and the GOP.

GOP approval or self identification is not rising with the Tea Party. In fact, the drop in Dem self identification in Rasmussen is being matched with an increase in Indis, not the GOP.

However, we know that this is a two party system. If you want power, you must operate through one of the parties and not split the conservative plurality with a third party. Given how far left Obama has taken the Dems, the GOP is the only alternative. However, we will not accept the lesser of two evils. Our goal is to retake the GOP back to the Reagan first principles.

At least half of the Tea Party are Indis with more than a few conservative Dems thrown in for good measure. The Tea Party had no chance of taking NJ and MA if it was limited to the far right GOP base of your fantasies. The GOP only won in NJ and MA because Indis are breaking 2-1 for the GOP joined by double digit percentages of the Dems.
 

C2H50H said...Here's a prediction: if the tea party groups manage to coalesce into an organization that can do more than raise a cacophony of noise, the result will resemble the Democratic party far more than the Republican party. In other words, beset by constant in-fighting, people going AWOL at critical points, co-opted themselves by opportunists and corporate interests, and unable to effect any coherent platform -- not that the tea-party folks could come up with a coherent platform in the first place.

The Tea Party movement is a fascinating organism. You are correct that there is no central organization anything like the centralized Obama Organizing for America, although there are groups attempting to vie for that role. Rather, the Tea Party movement is comprised of hundreds (and probably now thousands) of self formed local and regional groups coordinating through social networking.

For example, Scott Brown came out of nowhere in only about a month because a Tea Party group outside of MA started talking about a MA state legislator who was speaking at Tea Party meetings and challenging the MA Dem machine for Ted Kennedy's seat promising to stop Obamacare. This group resolved to raise money and work for Brown and got out the word on Facebook and Twitter. The plan went viral across the country in a matter of days. About a million dollars a day started flooding into the Brown coffers and the Brown campaign wisely started putting all the volunteers to work. Folks out here in CO and across the country were using Brown call lists to reach MA voters by the tens of thousands. In short order, Brown had closed and then took a lead over Coakley.

I have never seen anything like this before. The excellent Obama GOTV was alway controlled by the Obama campaign and relied a great deal on paid workers. The GOP does not organize or run us and no one is certainly paying us. The internet is making genuine national grass roots politics possible.

As to your argument that the Tea Party is fractured and could not agree to a platform, you are again missing the mark. The Tea Party movement is simple the return of the Reagan Revolution with the same basic Reagan conservative coalition - blue collar conservative Dems, libertarians, hawks and social conservatives. We are not reinventing the wheel, but rather our rallying cry is a return to first principles.

To the extent that there are fractures in the coalition - and there are - Obama and the Dems are keeping us unified. Basically, the Dems have gone so far left that we oppose nearly everything that they are doing and are working to kick the bums out.

Once we regain power by 2012, I am sure that the divisions will reemerge. It will be a challenge to maintain conservative governance longer than the eight years of Reagan and then the 6 years of Gingrich/Clinton. However, that is is getting ahead of ourselves. Right now, job one is to take back our government.
 

I posted my opposition to every Bush domestic spending proposal here. I recall, that I said that he was spending like a drunken Democrat. Little did I know that Obama would make Bush look like Mr. Frugality.


First of all, you did nothing of the sort. When we were pissing away $2 BILLION per week in the Iraq Disaster you weren't protesting, you supported it. Second of all, WHERE THE FUCK WERE THE TEA BAGGERS?
 

Dick Armey hadn't been paid to create them. At the time he was getting paid to create CSE.
 

Right now, job one is to take back our government.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 11:13 AM


Baghdad, you had control of the government for the Bush/Cheney years. It was a disaster.
 

Bart,

"take back our government"

When did independents ever have control of the government? The idea that there was some halcyon time when true conservatives were in charge and there was a golden age is simply the delusion of an authoritarian follower.

While you're deluding yourself, perhaps you could tell us who the tea party is going to back in the 2012 election cycle. I could use a few more laughs.

The danger of generalizing from the specific is well known. Imagining that the local scene from one of the most right-wing areas in the country is typical of what's happening across the country is insane. What statistical evidence do you have that "independents" are all to the right of the current GOP? Years ago there was a real revolt of the independents in Minnesota, resulting in Jesse Ventura. Do you imagine that you have much in common with those who voted for him?

Imagining that your particular flavor of right-wing fervor is shared by more than a few percent of the voting population of this country is hilarious.

A more accomplished poseur would not try to wear so many hats at the same time. Conservative? "Classical liberal"? These clearly have no meaning in your postings. Of course, modern conservatives and classical liberals do share a -- coincidental, no doubt -- association with white supremacy and its advocates, proving that there are no clear demarcations between flavors of political thought.

But it's OK. The corporate interests, like the ones in Soylent Green, don't care about the flavor of those they can use for their own ends, so long as the victims are dim (or tender) enough to be useful.
 

Is our intrepid former backpacker serving as the Pied Piper of what he describes:

"The Tea Party movement is simple [sic; but true] the return of the Reagan Revolution with the same basic Reagan conservative coalition - blue collar conservative Dems, libertarians, hawks and social conservatives. We are not reinventing the wheel, but rather our rallying cry is a return to first principles."

And how long did it take to get rid of the Reagan deficits before Bush/Cheney restored them?

Perhaps our intrepid former backpacker will dedicate his screed due for publication whenever to the movement. Let's hope the pages are soft to accommodate the movement.

In any event, I'm shorting Lipton's before the tea baggers get into really hot water.
 

C2H50H said...

Bart: "take back our government"

When did independents ever have control of the government? The idea that there was some halcyon time when true conservatives were in charge and there was a golden age is simply the delusion of an authoritarian follower.


All the polling on the subject has found the American electorate has been center right since the 80s. That center right majority is bipartisan and covers the GOP, Indis and between high single and low double digits of self identified Dems.

What statistical evidence do you have that "independents" are all to the right of the current GOP?

Huh? I posted that roughly half of the Tea Party movement are self identified Indis and the Tea Party movement is trying to take back the GOP and kick out the RINOs. From those two facts, you might safely conclude that Indis who belong to the Tea Party movement are more conservative than RINOs. I never said that all Indis are more conservative than the "current GOP," whatever that may be.

Imagining that your particular flavor of right-wing fervor is shared by more than a few percent of the voting population of this country is hilarious.

He who laughs last...

Conservative? "Classical liberal"? These clearly have no meaning in your postings.

Classical liberalism (individual liberty and limited government) and modern Reagan conservatism are largely synonymous. The modern left has very little in common with classical liberals.
 

He who laughs last...

# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:22 PM


I'm STILL laughing at your "these exit polls are great news" post from 2008.
 

Our intrepid former backpacker demonstrates that he lacks a sense of humor with this:

"He who laughs last..."

without completing the thought. Now, if he had a sense of humor, he should have said:

"He who laughs lasts."

Our intrepid former backpacker has been tied up in knots since November of '08 and before that since November of '06. He is waiting to see what happens in November of '10 to determine whether he can laugh again.

In contrast, we liberals (classical and otherwise) had lasted through 8 years of Bush/Cheney because we were able to laugh at them despite their messes.

(I realize some may challenge my claim that our yodeler lacks a sense of humor by pointing to his photo accompanying his comments. To counter such a challenge, perhaps I should accompany my comments with my photo - with two bags on my head, in case one breaks.)
 

Bart,

I have time only to correct a few of the most egregious errors of fact in your comment, so forgive me if I am less than thorough.

1. This "center right" -- I don't think this means what you think it means. To put it in more topical (considering the date) words, you can't trust a ref standing in the end-zone to decide where, relative to the line of scrimmage, a lineman at midfield was standing.

2. "statistical" is the opposite of "anecdotal". Make a note of it for the future. For the record, I think you are pulling a lot of your "facts" out of an orifice that you can't see without a mirror. Given that you have no actual evidence that "half the tea party" consists of "self-identified indis" (which is problematic on several levels), the rest of your argument falls on its face wearing a stupid expression.

3. Your ability to speak ex-cathedra on behalf of both "classical liberals" and the modern left would be impressive, if it were not for the sad fact that, in every case I've followed up to check on your "facts", it turns out you've been utterly wrong.

Have a good weekend, all.
 

This "center right" -- I don't think this means what you think it means.

Apologies to Inigo Montoya, no doubt :-)

In fact, "center right" is an utterance much heard from the right wing recently. It's a well crafted phrase, suggesting PR talent and focus group testing. It projects an image of the right wing as mainstream, not extreme.

Is America right of center? Doubtful. Probably depends on the issue.

Is the right wing mainstream? Of course not.

Then what's with this "center right" stuff? Simple: it denies an inconvenient fact, that the right wing is marginalizing itself. It has become too extreme for its base.

How marginalized? To take just one example: half the people who watch Fox "News" are over sixty-three.

How extreme? For example: Reagan's views, and decisions as President, wouldn't be right wing enough for the right wing that now says he's their hero.

"Center right" is designed to shift focus away from inconvenient facts like these.
 

David Nieporent:

"Freedomworks" may have helped publicize or even inspired the tea partiers, but they really exist. Go to one of their rallies, and you'll see them. They're not paid employees of Freedomworks. (And they aren't taking marching orders from Dick Armey, or "lobbying" for anybody.)

Yeah. We've got pic'chers... (my comment on Tancredo's TP lunacy here)

Cheers,
 

Basically, the Dems have gone so far left that we oppose nearly everything that they are doing and are working to kick the bums out.

:::belch:::

That's funny.
 

The term center-right nation is the consensus that the government should be limited (right) but still provide FDR style social insurance for the elderly, disabled and unemployed (center). However, it rejects the EU style redistribution to outright socialism of the left minority of the country.

For stats junkies, majorities self identify conservative and moderate in Gallup and say government is far too large and spends too much in Rasmussen. Meanwhile, liberals run away from the name and call themselves "progressives," "moderates" or most ridiculous of all - "post-partisan."

Voters from VA to MA are electing conservatives promising to stop left redistribution and socialism and shrink the size of government.

You are welcome to engage in the left's usual pissy whining calling the voters stupid and/or racist, but the unspinnable fact is that your redistribution and socialism is a minority position.

That is why Dems like Obama have to lie about their agenda and support censorship of opposing political speech.
 

"Bart" De Palma:

Voters from VA to MA are electing conservatives promising to stop left redistribution and socialism and shrink the size of government.

Yessssss. I saw this is spades in the last poll with sample size: N>3. Good thing "Bart" is on top of politics and predicted this for us.

Cheers,
 

"Freedomworks" may have helped publicize or even inspired the tea partiers, but they really exist. Go to one of their rallies, and you'll see them. They're not paid employees of Freedomworks.

Most members of NSA weren't paid employees of Philip Morris. Doesn't change the fact that it was a Burson-Marsteller creation.

The whole point of astroturf is to project an image of grassroots. That means getting as many fools as possible to believe they're part of a grassroots movement.

Really, if you want understand astroturf, the tobacco industry is a great place to start. They brought it to a fine art.
 

That is why Dems like Obama have to lie about their agenda

Dad-gone-it! Thanks to Bart's clairvoyance we've got more 'unspinnable facts': The only reason Obama hasn't proposed any "leftist redistribution" is because he's a LIAR!
 

mattski:

How perceptive of you. Well said. :-)

How will we ever take over the universe when people as smart as "Bart" keep foiling out plots?!?!?

Cheers,
 

Arne,

I don't think there's any question that Bart knows the lurid details of Obama's Secret Marxist agenda quite a bit better than Obama.

As it were.

Carry on, Comrade.
 

Our intrepid former backpacker in engaging in Tasseography should be aware of this:

"Typical tea bags are filled with the tiniest pieces of broken leaves, called fannings."

making reading difficult.

Tom Tancredo seems to be in hot water by bringing race into the Tea Baggers' movement that heartily applauded Tom's credo from Colorado (the home of you know whom).
 

Corporate personhood clearly has sci fi opportunities at the very least.
 

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