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Month June 2009

More on campaign finance and corporate people

Don’t you love it when two seemingly unrelated BMG threads are suddenly shown to be talking about the same thing?  

That’s really what’s going on here.  Under current law, corporations face a bunch of restrictions on participating in elections.  They can’t donate money to campaigns.  (That’s relatively unimportant, IMHO — who really cares if a multi-billion dollar multinational donates $2,300 to a multi-million dollar presidential campaign?)  And they can’t dip into the corporate treasury (where most of the money resides) to try to persuade people to vote a particular way either (via so-called “independent expenditures”) — they have to set up a PAC (also known as a Separate Segregated Fund) to do that.  That’s the rule that is likely to change this fall.  And if/when it does, that’s where the big money — the carpet-bombing of the airwaves, among other things — wants to go.  

Which leads one to ask: for purposes of campaign finance regulation, does it make sense to treat corporations the same as natural persons?  After all, the basis for what the Supreme Court is likely to do this fall is that corporations are just like people, and therefore they should be allowed to spend as much of “their own money” persuading people how to vote as anyone else.

LeftAhead Podcast: Could This Save the Media?

We’re not much for talking products but found an exception today. Our podcast guest was Martin Langeveld, long-time newspaper publisher and principal of CircLabs. His group aims to increase online effectiveness of news organizations, beginning with newspapers. Their browser add-on software will go into beta soon. Circulate aims to alert us users to news we are likely to want to see through an always-visible bar at the top of a browser window. Google kind of does this on searches and in blog ads. However, Circulate will not just pick some keywords and throw the closest related ad before you. It will work when media such as local newspapers and the AP link their content while the bar’s engine sees where you like to get your news and about what, and then provides meaningful related items. It’s an ambitious project with powerful goals. Another principal, Bill Densmore has been championing moving media into effective use of the internet. He spent the past year on an even more ambitious Information Valet Project at the University of Missouri’s  Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. While media types, particularly newspaper editors and publishers have seemed overwhelmed at the challenges of keeping readers and monetizing net […]

“How the Internet Ecosystem Can Improve Journalism”

More from the Personal Democracy Forum. Liveblog of discussion with Frank Rich (NYT), Karen Tumulty (Time), Dan Gillmor (ASU prof.), Scott Simon (NPR), Andrew Rasiej (PDF, moderator).

Moderator leads it off: “Is it all going to work out in the end? Will journalism survive.” [Sigh, yes it will all work out, it's a fairy tale, after all. ... Good lord. - Bob]

Rich: People didn’t imagine that anyone would pay for television, but they did. Tumulty: terrifying time. I hope I’m still around when they work it out. Gillmore: cites FireDogLake’s “donate now” solicitations to fund investigative journalism. We need lots of experiments. Simon: people aren’t going to be content with the old pompous model of the industry: “this is the news.” Cites use of Twitter and other new media as tools to improve journalism. In the old days, they were limited to the personal knowledge of people in the newsroom. Now they can access the knowledge of millions to find source material. Rich: New media can create its own deceptions. Sanford’s staff Tweeted for him while he was in South America. Some people initially saw this as evidence the Appalachian Trail story was valid. NYT reporter Roger Cohen provided a useful corrective to the “false dawn” of the Twitter Revolution story. [Excellent points - Bob]. Liveblog continues on the flip.

Sweet 60: MN Supreme Court Declares Franken Winner

From NYT: “The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered that Democrat Al Franken be certified as the winner of the state’s long-running Senate race.” Somebody call the Republican waahmbulance. What a bunch of sore losers.

Report from the Personal Democracy Forum

Memo to the hyperintelligence. Your New York City portalist hard at work here at the Jazz at Lincoln Center theater at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in the meat world to sit in on a few sessions at the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum. The jargon is so thick I need a reality machete just to figure out what these people are talking about. Sadly, it’s usually banal. There’s more insight in an average fortune cookie. Lots of expensive (but casual!) shoes and hair gel in the house, though. So this is where all the Silicon Alley people have gone. From the Machine is (Changing) Us, and the Dangerous Power of Sharing (Power) sessions. “In the past like paired with like.” “Power must surrender power or be overwhelmed by it.” “Group throw-weight.” “What happens when you have ad-hocracies battling it out with hierarchies.” “Anarcho-syndicalism” (Moderator: “Could you spell that please?”). Looks like the panel on the 2008 youth vote was equally limp. The deceptive and usually self-congratulatory claims about the 2008 youth turnout apparently were repeated (it was just two percent larger than 2004 and almost the same as in 1992 — although an impressive fraction voted for Obama). […]

Where’s The Leadership in the House – Deval – Aloisi – Prepare Now to Run for Rep

There were 30 Democrats including two chairmen, Dempsey and Costello, who voted against the budget. We would have to go back well before my time to find chairmen voting against the speaker on a budget. These numbers indicate to the handicapper that a significant few who voted with the speaker didn’t come easy. Losing 30 Dems is also significant. Deleo is in over his head. His leadership team is inexperienced and rudderless. Two chairmen voted against leadership and nobody cares? Soo the question is not if, but when. As in when will Deleo be gone? There are rumblings of some members being seriously disappointed in how the budget was handled. (That’s different than disappointment in what was in the budget)   No communication, except of course the “one tax” vote. DeLeo did a half-ass job as The Speaker. How many voiced their displeasure with the speaker? If they did, how did he take it? What was his response? Did he show leadership when challenged? Or weakness? How’s his temper holding up? —————————————- The Globe was a tad unfair to Deval today. I didn’t read it as Deval pushing a new gas tax, despite what the Globe wanted me to believe. […]

Obama update: DADT and signing statements

A couple of Obama items to report, both via the quite conservative but nonetheless well-informed and insightful blawgers at Volokh.   First, President Obama made some promising comments at the White House reception honoring Pride Month on our old friend Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I want to say a word about “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  As I said before — I’ll say it again — I believe “don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t contribute to our national security. (Applause.)  In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. (Applause.) … I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy — patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who’ve served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security. Awesome!  Getting rid of DADT is “essential for our national security”!  And so, the Volokh blawger asks: To deal with this grave and urgent threat to national […]

The coming revolution in campaign finance regulation

As I noted earlier, there was very big news at the Supreme Court today — and it wasn’t the Ricci case.  The biggest news was the non-decision in Citizens United v. FEC, in which the Court ordered reargument and briefing on whether two important campaign finance cases should be overruled.  SCOTUSblog describes the issues presented as follows: In the Austin [v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce] decision, the Court upheld the power of government to bar corporations from using funds from their own treasuries to support or oppose candidates for elected state offices.  In the part of McConnell [v. FEC] that the Court will reconsider, the Justices upheld a provision of the 2002 campaign finance law that bars corporations and labor unions from using their treasury funds to pay for radio or TV ads, during election season, that refer to a candidate for Congress or the Presidency, and appear to urge a vote for or against such a candidate. This case, in other words, is now about the opening of the floodgates of special interest money into the campaign system.  Here’s Rick Hasen, who has forgotten more about this stuff than most people will ever know: If Republicans were wondering how […]

There are $140 million in vetoes by Gov. Patrick

You can find the vetoes by agency or line item within Budget tracking It is noteworthy to me that the already underfunded judicial branch was further cut by 18 million dollars.   As it is, I cannot get timely hearings for parents who have had their children removed [some directly from the hospital to foster care based on anonymous, undisclosed, unreliable testing of birth blood or meconium].  I call these so-called results unreliable because actions are taken without knowing who did the tests, what tests were done, what software was used to analyze the results, or even how the samples are taken and kept free of cross contamination. It is taking as much as five to seven weeks to complete temporary custody hearings because there are not enough judges or sessions to hear them all. In part, that is because there is a huge increase in filings and removals by the Department of Children and Families, at least in the courts where I am appointed to cases. Today, once again, though the court house is allocated three judges and has three court rooms there was only one judge.   Inability to hear cases in a timely fashion is a major […]

Polls

Unequalled democratic superiority everywhere. Ignore this link: http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp… It’s only billxi posting, it must be wrong.