None may be discontributionized

In line with their own campaign staff illegal registrations and a coziness with ACORN and its decade spanning voter registration frauds under the rubric of ensuring no voter is disenfranchised, the official position of Barack Obama’s campaign appears to be that illegal campaign contributions are all in the eye of the beholder. For example, they may well argue, a person named Jgtj Jfggjjfgj probably views it that way.

Obama’s website has* all credit card verification procedures turned off for campaign contributions. The default is “On,” you have to turn it off deliberately. When you do, many wonderful things happen. You can accept contributions from Della Ware, John Galt, and Jgtj Jfggjjfgj. These fictitious people, though actual donors, may submit any address whatsoever, including foreign countries or Second Life.

Obama’s people claim they vet the legality of their donors after the contributions are made. The effectiveness of this technique is demonstrated by a pair of donors noted at the New York Times: “Derty West” and “Derty Poiiuy.” They both live at “rewq, ME” and are both employed by “Qwertyyy.” They even do the same job – “Qwerttyyu.”

This is a fine example of the ethical acuity of Chicago machine politics, because it shows how to facilitate anonymous, falsely sourced or foreign contributions while simultaneously evading contribution limits. All of that is illegal, of course. It’s why an honest person would not disable credit card verification. An honest person would not want to encourage illegal campaign contributions. An honest, prudent person would not turn off an effective verification system and assume the costs of vetting contributions themselves unless they were convinced they could do a superior job. As we’ve seen, this ideal is unrealized. Obama had good intentions, though: No one should be discontributionized.

The McCain campaign does not knowingly encourage such donations. They did not turn off the credit card verification system.

Commenter stevieray at sums it up:

“…Obama’s system doesn’t care what name is used, only that the credit card number is valid.

Obama’s system doesn’t care what address is used, only that the credit card number is valid.

Obama’s system doesn’t care if the security number is valid, it doesn’t even ask for it.

Federal law limits the amount anyone can give to the campaign, and requires the campaign to keep track of the donors and report the info to the feds.

Obama cannot report his donors accurately, because he can’t prove who gave ANY of the money to his campaign.

Every report he sent to the FEC is a fraud.

He can’t prove ANYBODY is below the limit, because he doesn’t know. His system made sure of that.”

A good summary of how this was discovered and has been documented may be found here.

Oh well, just another failure you can chalk up to the good intentions and false promise of McCain-Feingold. Strictly enforced donor disclosure requirements would have prevented it.

*Or had, there are reports credit card verification has been reinstated after this fraud-hole was discovered – proving they knew what they had done.

Don’t need your damn help

McCain Disavows Group Trying to Help His Campaign

It seems that a group set up as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation is advertising on behalf of the Senator’s presidential campaign. A 501(c) is allowed gather unlimited sums without naming its donors*, so whenever you hear McCain use the word “disclosure” in this context, he is being a hypocrite.

John McCain created this problem via his advocacy of Campaign Finance “Reform.” He’s being bitten by his own flawed law, which drove money into 501(c)s, and it looks good on him. I’m tempted to send a buck or two to the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America myself, except McCain is the last person in any party for whom I would vote.

Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, wrote on Monday to donors to Mr. McCain’s presidential campaign, saying: “I hope you will refrain from involving yourself with the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America. While not illegal, this group’s efforts certainly violate the spirit of reform and disclosure for which John McCain has fought over the past decade.”

That spirit being suppression of First Amendment rights in favor of incumbents. McCain thinks those rights require further restriction.

The letter came on the heels of a statement from Mr. McCain in which he said, “I ask all of my donors and supporters, including Mr. Reed [former McCain media strategist and founder of the 501(c) in question], to cease and desist immediately from supporting any independent expenditures that might be construed as benefiting my campaign indirectly.”

He added, “I will not win this election, nor would I want to win it, by acquiescing in anyone’s attempt to put my campaign before my principles.”

Unfortunately, Senator, these ARE your principles. Let us hear more from George Will about McCain-Feingold’s Wealth of Hypocrisy:

Congress is less divided by partisanship than it is united by devotion to the practice of protecting incumbents. Doing this with, for example, the bipartisan embrace of spending “earmarks” is routinely unseemly. But occasionally, incumbent protection is also unconstitutional.

It was in 2002, when Congress was putting the final blemishes on the McCain-Feingold law that regulates and rations political speech by controlling the financing of it. The law’s ostensible purpose is to combat corruption or the appearance thereof. But by restricting the quantity and regulating the content and timing of political speech, the law serves incumbents, who are better known than most challengers, more able to raise money and uniquely able to use aspects of their offices — franked mail, legislative initiatives, C-SPAN, news conferences — for self-promotion.

Not satisfied with such advantages, legislators added to McCain-Feingold the Millionaires’ Amendment to punish wealthy, self-financing opponents. The amendment revealed the cynicism behind campaign regulation’s faux idealism about combating corruption.

Read the whole thing, you’ll be amazed at how the definition of corruption is twisted 180 degress to favor incumbents.

*The Other Club advocates unrestricted political expenditure/donation accompanied by full and immediate disclosure of all donors.

Campaign Finance Revolt’

From Business Week Online, a report on the court ordered FECkless attack on Internet free speech:

“I strongly believe that the online political speech of all Americans should remain free of government review and regulations,” said Michael E. Toner.

Toner argued that political activity on the Internet fails to meet the campaign finance law’s threshold to stop corruption or the appearance of corruption. Toner urged Congress to pass a law that pre-empts the court’s action and ensures that the Internet remains exempt from campaign finance rules.

Toner is right except –

A) he should not have qualified “political speech” with “online”. The original sin of McCain-Feingold is abrogating the First Amendment on behalf of incumbents. I assure you, the First Amendment did not mention the Internet, or bloggers, or newspapers as exceptions to McCain-Feingold. Can you believe a defense of free speech now has to mention a special group to be taken seriously?

The “defenders” of free speech are begging for crumbs when they should just reject the whole flawed premise.

B) he should have urged Congress to pass a law rescinding McCain-Feingold as an unworkable piece of neo-Stalinist hubris rather than ask, ironically, for a special interest exemption.

On what logical ground should bloggers get an exemption? On what logical ground should newspapers get an exemption? On what logical ground can we say neither will ever violate the vague “appearance of corruption” travesty foisted on us by Sandra Day O’Connor?

And who cares anyway? I’ll never believe a dollar of George Soros money wasn’t corrupt even before he donated it to some communist-front advertising agency. Let’s just level the playing field by getting the self-interested regulators out of it. Free market speech. You decide if it’s bullshit, not Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Antonin Scalia.

This, along with the suit against The Club for Growth, is the straw falling on the camel’s back while his nose is under the tent.

But Scott E. Thomas, the FEC commissioner, said his agency’s original exemption for the Internet was a mistake and the FEC should come up with rules for Internet campaign ads in light of the $14 million spent on Internet ads in the 2004 campaign.

$14 million? What happened to the rest of Soros’ money? I’d bring in the NRA money for balance, but they were prohibited.

At least Mr. Thomas is more logically consistent than Mr. Toner. He’s been ordered to write some rules and he’s an unapologetic administriviator.

Given his head, I’m sure he’d agree that we must apply “the rules” consistently – no discussion of politics, by anybody – 60 days before an election. Draconian statism is as draconian statism does:

Thomas said the FEC hopes to write its rules by the end of the year. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is reviewing the ruling and if it decides that the challenge to the initial rules had no standing, some commissioners may push to abandon the work on writing new rules, Thomas said.

If the Court of Appeals decides the challenge had no standing, which commissioners would NOT push to abandon writing new rules? Only those who enjoy writing rules for their own sake, one presumes. Mr. Thomas, for example, who is straight out of Kafka.

When we look at the original sinners we’ll find that Sen. John McCain has recently commented that he doesn’t think bloggers should be regulated at all, and that he was unaware of any attempt to do so. It looks like he is either a liar or does not know what his totalitarian legislation is actually regulating.

Paul Mirengoff, at Powerline, to whom Sen. McCain averred regulation of, well something related to the Internet, tells us:

Finally, having listened to Senator McCain answer questions on a wide range of subjects for about an hour at the end of a very long day, I can say for certain that he is no space cadet.

That’s nice. However, it does not mean McCain is not an insufferable egomaniac who cannot bring himself to question the pet project he nurtured to fruition: A piece of legislation that has increased the “problem” it sought to regulate and is having enormous, evil, “unintended” consequences.

The road to Hell is paved with whatever road is currently under “The Straight Talk Express.” McCain may be no fool, but he is a demagogue of the first water.

Finally, I am somewhat disappointed by this:

Michael J. Krempasky, director of the Web site, said that if bloggers have to meet a government test every time they discuss politics, “the reaction will be completely predictable: rather than deal with the red tape of regulation and the risk of legal problems, they will fall silent on all issues of politics.”

I can understand why Mr. Krempasky might not threaten a Boston Tea Party/Civil Disobedience campaign while trying to persuade these idiots of the error of their very synapses, but I, for one, will not be silent about this.

I think that the FEC Enforcement Squad (that’s FECES) will have several million targets as we all ignore their anti-free speech edicts.

If it comes to it, I will be contributing to the legal defense of whoever they pick first, regardless of the politics of the blogger they attack. I think they will really be surprised at the concern with free speech demonstrated by the coalition of moonbats, wingnuts and even normal people who want to talk about politics on, or off, the Internet without the Federal Government telling us how to do it.

Update: 24-Sep 9:22AM Apparently, Senator McCain is ignorant of statements made in his name and over his signature, as Allison Hayward at Skeptic’s Eye (added to blogroll) reminds us here.

She also makes the excellent point that distinguishing blogging from the Internet is, at best, disingenuous. TOTH Powerline.


Quixote/Pollyanna and the 1st Amendment

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This is a long post and it starts with a Lansing State Journal Op-Ed I wrote in Dec-03. My title was “Pragmatism as Principle”; I don’t remember the title under which it was published. It is a useful foreword to the administrative and judicial steps taken since it was written that further tighten the noose around my freedom of speech – and yours.

Pragmatism as Principle [from Dec-2003]

Amendment XXVIII to the United States Constitution:
“Upon petition of the Congress, the Supreme Court shall conduct a review of what, in the majority’s opinion, may constitute corrupting influence, and shall be empowered to immediately amend this document in remedy thereof.”

Recognizing this fictitious Amendment in December 12th’s New York Times (“A Supreme Court Infused With Pragmatism“), Linda Greenhouse opines:
“The Supreme Court that upheld the new campaign finance law on Wednesday was a pragmatic court, concerned less with the fine points of constitutional doctrine than with the real-world context and consequences of the intensely awaited decision.”

A simple rewording, changing no overt meaning, may be enlightening:
“The Supreme Court that upheld the new campaign finance law on Wednesday was a pragmatic court, more concerned with a populist view of the controversial new law than with the concept of limited government.”

From a newspaper, tacit approval of judicial tampering with the First Amendment (wherein occurs the phrase “free press”) is remarkable. The Times apparently prefers “real-world context” to “fine points of constitutional doctrine” so long as there is no inconvenience to its own autonomy (newspapers are presently exempt from Campaign Finance Reform speech restrictions). The Times here promotes a “living Constitution”, generally meaning: Why pay attention to the “fine points” of a 200 year old document, written for a thinly populated agrarian society, by a generally wealthy group of white male elitists?

Ad-hominem subtext notwithstanding, admiration of the Framers requires neither a belief in their universal decency nor a presumption of their prescience. Rather, it arises from their prior acceptance of grave personal danger in rebellion against the world’s most powerful state in order to secure their endorsement of human liberty: the Constitutional prohibition against exercise of arbitrary government power.

Indeed, upon what else but precisely this fundamental point — limited government — should we expect the attention of Justices charged with defending the Constitution to be concentrated? Perversely, the Court’s majority opinion held that restrictions on political free speech are justified in order to reduce ambiguously defined “corrupting influences”. Substituting populist moral fashion for the rule of law is exacerbating a symptom, not treating the cause.

The cause is insufficiently limited government, from which politicians derive their license to peddle influence: the arbitrary manipulation of laws and regulations; the manipulation of the allocation of goods in society. Without this ability, bribes would not be forthcoming. Politics in money is the problem, not money in politics.

When a government exceeds its legitimate duty of fairly and equally enforcing rules, instead distributing “favors”, special interests will always be vying for control of the spoils. The media is next.

Chief Justice Rehnquist notes, in dissent, that “newspaper editorials and political talk shows benefit federal candidates and officeholders every bit as much as a generic voter registration drive conducted by a state party; there is little doubt that the endorsement of a major newspaper affects federal elections, and federal candidates and officeholders are surely ‘grateful’ for positive media coverage.”

The First Amendment especially intends to protect freedom of political speech, but since the new standard for restricting speech is the collective opinion of the Court’s majority regarding what constitutes “corrupting influence”, it is difficult to see what Constitutional limitation remains which might help them avoid defining editorial speech as a “corrupting influence” that Congress could properly address.

The increased political value (a.k.a. potential “corrupting influence”) of an editorial should persuade newspapers to lead the opposition to this flawed legislation. The rest of us would do well to spend 20 minutes rereading the Constitution and reflecting upon the truly Revolutionary concept of government therein.


I had a limited word count when I wrote that. Here are 2 opinions I had to leave out:

Antonin Scalia’s dissent includes this passage:

This is a sad day for the freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002), tobacco advertising, Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533 U.S. 525 (2001), dissemination of illegally intercepted communications, Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001), and sexually explicit cable programming, United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., 529 U.S. 803 (2000), would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government. For that is what the most offensive provisions of this legislation are all about. We are governed by Congress, and this legislation prohibits the criticism of Members of Congress by those entities most capable of giving such criticism loud voice: national political parties and corporations, both of the commercial and the not-for-profit sort. It forbids pre-election criticism of incumbents by corporations, even not-for-profit corporations, by use of their general funds; and forbids national-party use of “soft” money to fund “issue ads” that incumbents find so offensive.

Here is part of the opinion from Justice Kennedy:

Although today’s opinion does not expressly strip the press of First Amendment protection, there is no principal 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.


Now, to today’s McCain/Feingold downdate.

Federal, state, and local governments control the redistribution of nearly 40 percent of the Gross National Product. They pass, and selectively exercise the power to enforce, thousands of criminal laws. They frankly contend an unrestricted right to regulate our lives. We should be extremely concerned about elections and about our ability to critique our politicians. Most especially 60 days before election time.

The McCain/Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 is a heinous restriction on our ability to do that.

The “unintended consequences” of this act are legion. That’s another way of saying “our intentions outweigh results in our planning scenarios.” This could reasonably serve as a definition of fascism or communism. That’s not hyperbole. Think about it.

Incumbent politicians are fond of McCain/Feingold because it lets them eat their cake, have your cake too, and then fine you if you don’t shut up about it. They’re saying, “We’re going to regulate what you do, and when election time rolls around we’re going to restrict what you can say about it.”

McCain/Feingold should be renamed for what it is: “The Quixote/Pollyanna Incumbent Protection Act of 2002.”

Campaign Finance Reform is, ipso facto, a fundamentally flawed concept because it necessarily involves violation of the First Amendment. It does not matter how egregious you think MoveOn is, or how disingenuous you believe the Swift-Boat-Vets-for-Truth were: restricting their speech violates the First Amendment.

So, what’s the problem you may ask, neither MoveOn nor SBVfT were muzzled in the last election?Neither were the New York Times nor the Washington Times.If you are a 527 PAC, or an “official” news outlet, you are momentarily, and whimsically, excepted from McCain/Feingold.

No principle is involved. It is arbitrary. The MSM don’t get it or they’d be on the barricades instead of supporting this asinine legislation (as has my local paper).

Interpretation is entirely at the mercy of the Supreme Court. Lower courts are following their lead. A little recent history:

  • In 2002, the Federal Election Commission exempts “the Internet” from the Campaign Finance Reform contribution regulations of McCain/Feingold.
  • In 2003 the Supreme Court upholds McCain/Feingold, explicitly saying there are excuses for regulating “political speech.”
  • In September, 2004 U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly overturns the 2002 FEC Internet exemption. (If you find that name familiar, it is probably from the final Microsoft anti-trust decision.)
  • By March 3rd, 2005, the FEC is discussing how to implement Kollar-Kotelly’s decision.

The bottom line is that the archives of this blog may become violations of McCain/Feingold in the next Federal election. If you haven’t read how to implement, above you may not appreciate this danger. Here’s an excerpt, starting with a quote from FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith:

“The FEC did an advisory opinion in the late 1990s [before McCain/Feingold] (in the Leo Smith case) that I don’t think we’d hold to today, saying that if you owned a computer, you’d have to calculate what percentage of the computer cost and electricity went to political advocacy.”, says Bradley Smith, an FEC Commissioner. … Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections [of Kollar-Kotelly’s decision]. But because they couldn’t get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a “bizarre” regulatory process now is under way.

As ye McCain, so shall ye Feingold. But, a better response than “I don’t think we’d hold to today…”, or “’bizarre’ regulatory process” would be: “We’re screaming our lungs out about this insanity and if this goes forward I’m damn well going to resign. Why, oh why,did George Bush ever sign such a bit of totalitarianism? What-in-hell was he thinking?”

Let me give you one more example of the slippery cliff they’re playing with here. 60 days before an election, does every Google search you conduct that returns more Democrat hits than GOP hits need to report to the FEC? If not, why not? Google is a large corporation, they have lots of money. And in fact, in 2004 98% of Google employees’ $207,650 (federal) contributions went to Democrats. Maybe they skew results as a political contribution.

“Campaign Finance Reform” has a long and useless history. Check here and here.

Finally, I will give a little rant:

Memo to John and Russ: get off my back, get out of my pocket, and stop trying to get into my mind in order to grab my tongue. All the cleverness you can bring to this has been, and will be, thwarted for reasons apparently too obvious for you to see. Meanwhile, the continuing loss of freedom while you tweak your speech controls wasn’t even worth the breath you wasted in the cloakrooms in the first place.

Ample history demonstrates your command and control theories are doomed, so go for “full disclosure”. I’ll even tell you how many hits my blog gets, though I can’t read minds so I can’t give you the partisan breakdown you’d need for the thought police to assess the proper tax.

Update 4-Mar-05 12:10
See excellent posts on this by Captain Ed and Mark Tapscott.

Update 6-Mar-05 10:19
Tip of the hat to Powerline for this great defense of Bradley Smith by Winfield Myers at:
Democracy Project
and this