BenDoubleCrossed 
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Re: “One swift act of a clueless justice gave us Citizens United

When I was young you did not have to ask anyone permission to participate in politics. You could pool your money with others who shared your views without donation limits or reporting requirements. It was understood that freedom of speech, press and assembly were the rights of flesh and blood citizens. Newspapers enjoyed the right to print and broadcasters the right to speak because they employed people. But people did not have to own newspapers, TV Stations or radio stations to print or speak.

Then came Nixon and Watergate and campaign laws based on protecting the public from the appearance of corruption.

Prior to President Nixon’s second term, some of our nation’s largest newspapers found themselves in federal court loosing antitrust suits which accused them of purchasing financially troubled regional newspapers and then pretending to compete with them while rigging prices.

The Newspaper Preservation Act was working its way through congress and was designed to grant antitrust relief to the affected newspapers. Richard Nixon and his, Attorney General, were on record as strongly opposed to the passage of the Newspaper Preservation Act.

A newspaper executive wrote a letter to President Nixon as his re-election approached. The letter reminded President Nixon that the nation’s largest Newspaper chains published in those states that had the largest number of electoral votes. The carefully worded letter reminded President Nixon that it could be difficult to be re-elected without their editorial support.

President Nixon reversed his position and used his political skills to convince Congress to pass the Newspaper Preservation Act.

Following reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 Presidential campaign, Congress amended the FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs.

The newly minted campaign laws should have chastised the 4th estate as well as Nixon. Instead the Federal Election Campaign Reform Act exempted corporate media from campaign laws and created the “State Approved Press”.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspaper_Pre…

2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

But what is the difference between slanted news stories or editorial opinions and political ads anyway? "Section 431(9)(B)(i) makes a distinction where there is no real difference: the media is extremely powerful by any measure, a "special interest" by any definition, and heavily engaged in the "issue advocacy" and "independent expenditure" realms of political persuasion that most editorial boards find so objectionable when anyone other than a media outlet engages in it.

News corporations have exercised their power to destroy or pick the GOP candidate. They attempt a self fulfilling prophecy by stating Romney is the eventual Republican nominee, despite the fact he has not attracted more than 28% of conservatives. And the news destroyed Herman Cain's candidacy with unproven innuendo and attempted the same character assassination on Newt Gingrich. And media hosts have denied Buddy Roemer a podium at the GOP Presidential debates despite the fact he is for campaign reforms. Yet the media hypocritically judge the viability of a candidate by how much money he is able to raise while decrying the evil of money in politics, most of which flows to them to purchase campaign ads!

The media’s crocodile tears about the evils of money in politics is so hypocritical. Distributing political ads to the masses is the biggest expense of political campaigns. If the media were to carry political ads, as a public service, it would greatly reduce the need for money in politics! But corporate media are the recipient of billions of dollars in campaign ads.

The 1st Amendment is not a loophole in campaign laws. Campaign laws are corruption of the 1st Amendment.

Amendment 1
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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The National Rifle Association purchased a radio station to get around existing campaign laws. Should citizens and citizens groups have to buy a radio station to enjoy freedom of speech or a newspaper to enjoy freedom of the press?

To restore equal protection under law the press exemption must be extended to citizens and citizens groups! People don’t lose their rights when they associate in groups, whether it’s a corporation, a labor union, a nonprofit organization or even a newspaper.

Before you insist on more people muzzling campaign laws watch this video: http://www.ij.org/freedomflix/33-sampson and read the Citizens Guide to participating in Federal elections. http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/citizen…

Until campaign laws apply equally to all, we the people are the 99% and media princes, like Colbert, are the 1%.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by BenDoubleCrossed on 02/02/2012 at 7:27 AM

Re: “Citizens divided

The Fly in the Ointment:

Mainstream media corporations are the ultimate super pacs and they are exempt from campaign laws.

From 1791 to 1886 1st Amendment freedoms of speech, press and assembly were the sole rights of flesh and blood citizens.

From 1886 to 1973 flesh and blood citizens and media corporations enjoyed equal freedoms of speech and the press.

From 1974 to present only the commercial media enjoy unrestricted freedom of speech and the press. Following reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 Presidential campaign, Congress amended the FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs.

2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

And what is the difference between slanted news stories or editorial opinions and political ads anyway?

The media’s crocodile tears about the evils of money in politics is so hypocritical. Distributing political ads to the masses is the biggest expense of political campaigns. If the media were to carry political ads, as a public service, it would greatly reduce the need for money in politics! But corporate media are the recipient of billions of dollars in campaign ads.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by BenDoubleCrossed on 01/12/2012 at 8:34 AM

Re: “Where is the corporate belly button?

Tell me again what the difference is between an editorial or slanted news stories and political ads?

Placing ads with media corporations is where most money in politics is spent. It is so refreshing for the media to continuously point out the evil of money in politics.

Following reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 Presidential campaign, Congress amended the FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs. But politicians exempted the commercial press.

2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

The press exemption divides participation in America’s political process into two categories: The regulated majority, every living U.S. Citizen, candidate for office, political party and political organization and the unregulated commercial media.

The NRA bought a radio station. Should like minded citizens have to buy a radio station to exercise freedom of speech or a newspaper to exercise freedom of the press? Campaign laws that give megaphones to corporate media and muzzle the voices of grass roots enthrone corporate influence of elections?

Non-profits help level the playing field for flesh and blood vs. exempt corporate media.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by BenDoubleCrossed on 01/05/2012 at 10:31 PM

Re: “Where is the corporate belly button?

Before passing campaign laws to restore the voice of flesh and blood against corporations, review what current campaign laws have done:

Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Americans’ Right To Most-Basic Political Speech: Talking to Their Neighbors

April 15, 2010
Media Contact:
John Kramer (703) 682-9320

Seattle, Wash.—Washingtonians from both sides of the political spectrum filed a lawsuit today to stop their state from monitoring, collecting and publicly disseminating information about the political activities of private citizens who do nothing more than urge their fellow citizens to take political action. They seek to vindicate the belief that if the First Amendment protects anything, it protects the right of all Americans to speak to one another about the issues affecting their lives without having to first register with the government.

There are few things more distinctly American than grassroots political activism. From town hall meetings and statehouse rallies to talk radio, blogs and “meet ups,” Americans are constantly finding new and innovative ways to participate in politics. Through such activities, people can alert elected officials to constituents’ preferences, educate fellow citizens about how to make their voices heard, and even persuade the public to adopt new views. In fact, it’s hard to imagine our system of government working without an active and engaged populace of grassroots activists.

But little-known laws existing in a majority of states threaten to strangle this kind of political participation with red tape, ensuring that the public square is occupied by only those established voices that have enough resources to overcome the immense burdens imposed by so-called “grassroots lobbying” laws. These laws require groups to register with the state and file frequent and detailed reports about their contributions, expenditures and activities.

Under Washington’s “grassroots lobbying” law, if you urge your fellow citizens to contact government officials and spend more than the state’s arbitrarily low ceiling (only $500 in one month or $1,000 in three months), the government forces you to register with it and report your name, address, business and occupation, as well as the names and addresses of anyone with whom you are working to spread your message. The state also demands to know the names and addresses of each person who contributes more than $25 to your efforts.

Simply put: Even if you never talk to an elected official but spend as little as $500 merely to communicate with your neighbors and friends about state policies, you must register with, and provide information to, the government, which then proceeds to disseminate the information on the Internet. Failure to register can lead to an investigation, significant penalties (including treble damages, the costs of the investigation and the government’s attorney’s fees), and a revocation of the ability to engage in any political activity that might qualify as “grassroots lobbying.”

“Many grassroots organizations will simply forego speaking because the burdens of disclosure are so high and the costs of incorrectly reporting so steep,” said Institute for Justice Washington Chapter Executive Director Bill Maurer, which filed suit on behalf of the small, Washington-based, citizen activist organizations challenging the law. “This is unacceptable under the First Amendment, which unreservedly protects speech about politics. Our goal in this case is to begin rolling back regulations on grassroots activism in the states and ensure that efforts to pass such regulations at the federal level are stopped once and for all.”

The sweeping lobbying laws of 36 states threaten to strangle grassroots movements with red tape and regulation, according to University of Missouri economist and campaign-finance scholar Jeffrey Milyo in a new report, “Mowing Down the Grassroots: How Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure Suppresses Political Participation,” published by the Institute for Justice. (The report is available at: www.ij.org/MowingDownTheGrassroots.)

Dr. Milyo found that these laws are often incapable of being understood by ordinary people. The first paragraph of Massachusetts’ new lobbying law, for example, scored 0.9 on a 100-point scale in a readability test. Going by such tests, it would take 34 years of formal education to understand that paragraph; not even a doctorate from MIT or Harvard would be enough. Dr. Milyo pointed to previous research that shows that ordinary citizens have a difficult time with the kind of red tape these laws require—and the information disclosed provides little public benefit. Yet citizens face fines and in some places jail time for engaging in political activities that violate these laws. In New York, the maximum criminal penalty is $5,000 and four years in jail, equivalent to arson or riot; and in Alabama, it is $30,000 and 20 years, an equivalent punishment for kidnapping.

Pat Murakami leads a group called “Many Cultures, One Message,” which is dedicated to preserving the diverse and lively neighborhoods of Seattle and opposes the use of eminent domain for redevelopment. She is concerned that the layers of red tape and expenses associated with registering as a grassroots lobbying organization could swallow her group. “The only thing grassroots lobbying laws accomplish is to limit the political process to lobbyists and insiders,” says Murakami. “For a volunteer organization like us, fighting to preserve our neighborhood is difficult and expensive enough as it is. My organization cannot afford the time and lawyers necessary to correctly comply with Washington’s incomprehensible and complex law.”

Another grassroots activist, Alfred Petermann, who runs the small-government group Conservative Enthusiasts, is worried that the law’s disclosure requirements will scare away donors and vendors who don’t want to be publicly associated with the group’s views, which often engender vehement opposition among some in government, big business and large labor unions. “Conservative Enthusiasts will have a hard time raising funds and getting its message out to the public if its potential supporters will have their names and addresses posted on the Internet and available to co-workers, employers, and others to see,” says Petermann. As a result, he is considering limiting his grassroots issue campaign expenses to under $500 so that Conservative Enthusiasts will not have to register. This demonstrates yet another example of how citizens’ basic rights to anonymous political speech and association, as well as the right to petition the government, are severely chilled by Washington’s law.

“What Washington state government calls ‘grassroots lobbying’ has been called ‘participating in our democracy’ for as long as we've had a country . . . even longer,” said IJ Staff Attorney Jason Adkins. “This is what James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton were doing when they wrote the Federalist Papers—anonymous so-called grassroots lobbying that would be illegal under current Washington law.”

Adkins continued, “As private citizens continue to advocate for change against the interests of the political establishment of both parties, there is a growing push to extend grassroots lobbying laws to other states and to the federal level. This would do little but make government less accountable and leave politics solely to professionals.” A federal grassroots lobbying law has already been proposed in Congress, but was eventually tabled. Reformers remain eager to pass the law.

But Maurer noted that IJ stands ready to counter this assault on First Amendment freedoms: “If government officials need laws to protect them from communications from the people they are supposed to represent, then our government has ceased to be representative at all,” he said. “The government has no business monitoring the political activities of the very people it purports to serve.”

http://instituteforjustice.org/index.php?o…

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by BenDoubleCrossed on 01/05/2012 at 10:31 PM

Re: “Join Missoula in Neutralizing Citizens United

Restoring the 1st would be a satisfying solution.

Amendment 1
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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Political campaigns assemble people and coordinate their money and talents to communicate, thru speech and the press, demands for redress of grievances. The 1st Amendment is not a loophole in campaign laws. Campaign laws are corruption of the 1st Amendment!

Flesh and blood people should be equally exempt and equally free from unconstitutional restraints. But only the corporate voice has been unregulated since the passage of the Federal Campaign Act.

2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

This exemption created a “State Approved Commercial Press!”

Many non-profit corporations, 501s and 527s were formed to get around some, not all, restraints FECA and BCRA placed on political communications by flesh and blood citizens. Interest groups, from the ACLU to the NRA to DownsizeDC.org, are all corporations too. The persons in these groups have interests, and particularly in the non-profit sector, it's a method for organizing the so-called 99% so they can pool their resources and be sure they are heard.

The NRA bought a radio station to restore the rights of their membership to participate in American politics. But the 1st Amendment does not require people to purchase a radio station in order to enjoy freedom of speech. Radio stations enjoy freedom of speech because they employee people.

"Section 431(9)(B)(i) makes a distinction where there is no real difference: the media is extremely powerful by any measure, a "special interest" by any definition, and heavily engaged in the "issue advocacy" and "independent expenditure" realms of political persuasion that most editorial boards find so objectionable when anyone other than a media outlet engages in it. To illustrate the absurdity of this special exemption the media enjoys, I frequently cite as an example the fact that if the RNC bought NBC from GE the FEC would regulate the evening news and, under the McCain-Feingold "reform" bill, Tom Brokaw could not mention a candidate 60 days before an election. This is patently absurd." – Senator McConnell

To restore equal protection under law, the “press exemption”, 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i), should be modified to read: “The term expenditure does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed by any candidate, political party, citizen, citizens group, corporation, broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication.”

Since the only thing campaigns produce is information for public distribution and the cost of distribution is the origin of much of the need for money in politics, why not require the commercial media to publish and broadcast candidate and issue ads for free in return for their exemption from campaign laws?

Posted by BenDoubleCrossed on 12/08/2011 at 5:03 PM

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