Questions about Citizens United and political ads...


So this is about “money isn’t speech?”

I can handle that one too.

As far as political power - this isn’t about that. It’s about speech. Speech is not power, it is influence (if it is effective). The voters decide whether to grant power, and they can reject the influence if they care to.

Tell Drum God, it’s his analogy.

And I am proud to say I get your SNL reference. I’m that old.


Do you think rich people should be barred by law from buying my government because you can’t afford to?
Yeah, it’s my analogy and maybe it’s not a great one. I was just trying to say that a freedom that is unattainable isn’t exactly a freedom. There is no law prohibiting me (or anyone else) from going to the moon. All it takes is great gobs of money to get there. So, saying I am free to go to the moon is pretty worthless. I am free to buy all the political speech I want, too. All it takes is great gobs of money to be effective. So, saying I am free to buy effective political speech is pretty worthless.

Nobody is buying government. Bribery is illegal.

You can do what lots of people do, and donate a small amount to a candidate, or a group, that pools the donations to buy millions in ads.

And you can vote, which is all that really matters.

Wait until anti-aging drugs become possible. Some people’s heads will explode, since only some people will be able to afford them.

What does justify someone having more political power than you? Being better looking? More famous? Better at basketball? A journalism degree? A blog that gets a lot of readers? All those people are likely a lot more politically powerful than you. Freakin’ Nikki Minaj’s rap lyrics get misinterpreted as support for Romney nad half the rap fan sites go berserk. I think she has more power than you. She must be censored! Heck, those rap lyrics are probably going to reach a lot more voters than the Kochs’ ads.

Unless that “loud shiny crap he wants” includes things like air time for political ads, newspapars, publishing companies for anti-incumbent books, or TV and radio stations to air his opinion about a candidate?

Regardless of what happens, the Democrats will say its bad and the Republicans will say its good unless and until Republicans start losing the superPAC and corporate money race, this will be the case. I’d like to think that Democrats would oppose the corrupting influence of money in either event but I’m not sure that is the case, besides the law that was overturned was called McCain-Feingold.

When there is a lack of information, money can do a lot to inform (or misinform).

The effect of money in political races is fairly well known. I see more money flowing into elections. I’ve always said that congress is one of the biggest bargain in America if only more people knew it was for sale.

All things being equal, money gives you a decided advantage. This does not change because one of the weakest Republican fields in a generation (the 2012 Republican primary was probably the weakest I’ve ever seen) was so much worse than the winner of one of the best field of candidates in a generation (the 2008 Democratic primary was probably as strong as I’ve ever seen) that even a googob of money couldn’t overcome it.

I get the feeling that the challenge created by CU is making the press step up its game a bit.

SuperPACs are the direct result of Citizens United, aren’t they?

If only we had a system where the people could decide, by voting for whoever they want to have the political power! We could call them “elections.” Perhaps someday.

Doesn’t make it real.

A cute empty slogan.

Sort of, but the point is that others did the same kind of spending before CU.

Seems to me you have a dilemma there. If there is no “real” effect of political advertising, that means a whole bunch of people are dead wrong about it. All of those politicians who swear by it, for starters. Literally swear, “I need more goddam money! Jesus, where can I get some more money!” But they’re wrong. Sez you.

All of those professional fund raisers, and semi-human pustules like Karl Rove, they have no idea what they are doing. And when they bring their solid gold begging bowl to fat cats “Please sir, I would like some more.” security is not called, the hounds not released. Because they don’t know what you know, that it is all for naught.

Now, if you want to stipulate that, in your opinion, “the effect of money on political races” is not “real”, I would be interested to see it definitively laid out. I promise I will not mock you for it. Can’t speak for some of these other guys here, some of them are not nice people. But I won’t. Trust me, as they say in California.

It’s not a dilemma, because what I meant was that the “well-known effect” you refer to simply overstates the case.

In SOME races, the effect is real. In many, it’s spurious–the candidate who won would have won without having a money advantage. He was the more popular candidate, or the one overwhelmingly expected to win, or even running unopposed - so those things resulted in him getting more donations. Money was the effect, not the cause.

Now, in races where money does matter, I don’t care. The voters have plenty of access to information, and complete control over who they vote for. They decide who wins. If they want to decide based on who spends more money, or whose ads they see more on TV, that’s their choice. It’s democracy in action. They can vote for who has the nicest hair too, if they want - doesn’t mean we can regulate hair styles either.

Homologous but not analogous (spending in 2000 amounts to about $700bn today).

Two wrongs fallacy. An allusion to maliocracy is no defence of plutocracy.

The same kind of spending, not the same amount. The point is that it was legal.

Um, yeah, okay.

I’m not defending plutocracy, I’m defending democracy. YOU are the one who wants to use the two wrongs fallacy, by justifying one anti-democratic action to allegedly prevent another.

We are required to make such judgments, or we would not long have any democracy to defend.

Not sure what you mean - what judgments?

We are most certainly required NOT to make certain judgments, such as judging what speech is acceptable or not. Instead, we have freedom of speech.

Well, OK. lets suppose a man had enough money to buy all the political advertising time in a given state, say, Ohioda. His purpose is simple, he seeks to get a corrupt scoundrel elected Governor because he will favor his enterprises. The lies about the candidate blare from every TV and radio, the truth is only found on disreputable message boards.

You’d have no problem with this?

I have a big problem with this, and I’d vote against the guy for it. I imagine most voters in Ohioda would too.

Except the truth can be found all kinds of places besides TV ads and message boards. TV, radio and print news, public forums, the scoundrels’ opponent’s website…


The laws prevent this from happening.

By law, TV and radio stations have to give “equal access” and “equal time” to all political candidates and this is enforced by the FEC and the FCC.

To give an example, I’m sure you’re probably more familiar than I am with the Prairie Island nuclear power plant.

If someone proposed a ballot iniative shutting it down, the power plant couldn’t buy up all the air time on TV or the radio to prevent people from running ads encouraging people to vote for the iniative.

Of course the truth can be found, if you seek it out. Been a radical lefty for forty years, because I did just that.

But propaganda works, its a brutal fact of human psychology. If we naively depend on absolutes, we make our democracy the prey of scoundrels who care nothing for our principles or our purity.

I do see a glimmer of hope, as I always strain to do. It appears, for the moment anyway, that all of the millions upon millions of bucks being spent are not working as well as intended. I’m a pessimist, so I love surprises.