August 24, 2006

The Case For No Out-of-Jurisdiction Campaign Contributions: Prove Me Wrong

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:05 pm

On This One, I Disagree with The Club For Growth (and probably almost everyone else). So prove me wrong.

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Last week, Nevada congressional candidate Dean Heller (last paragraph at link; HT Club for Growth) said he would, if elected, “back a federal law to prevent federal candidates from acquiring most of their support from people and organizations outside of their districts.”

OK, the guy’s a first-class hypocrite, exposed by The Club, which went over the line hyperbolically and mischaracterized what Heller wants as a total ban (I see no evidence of that, even at the link they cite), because his campaign got most of his money from OUT of state.

But I am willing to go as far as CFG accused this guy of going, and I’ll walk it backwards to make my point:

  • Current laws (and common sense) forbid presidential candidates from receiving contributions from non-citizens or foreign entities (I know, those laws were violated in the 1990s; we don’t need to go there).
  • Why wouldn’t it be logical that US Senate candidates should only get campaign money from people who live in their state?
  • Then why should a congressional race be funded with any money coming from individuals who don’t live in the congressional district involved?

The best question is: Who in their right mind would ever expect political campaigns to be funded by anyone OTHER THAN those who live in the political jurisdiction where the contest is taking place? Conversely, why does anyone think they have the right, beyond expressing their opinion and spending the money necessary to make that expression possible, to contribute to a political campaign in a place where they don’t live?

In unison, The Club For Growth and every PAC in the land stand up and scream “free speech, free association.”

I say “Wrong, totally wrong.”

No one’s free speech is being trampled on. Anyone is free write a letter to the editor, stand on a soap box, or in modern times give their opinions in forums, on blogs, and on radio programs in support of or in opposition to a given candidate. Since I agree that money spent on expressing an opinion is protected speech, outsiders and outside organizations can also buy all the issue-oriented news, broadcast, and Internet ads they wish, as long as they disclose who they are AND where they are from.

But nonresident individuals and outside organizations should not be able to contribute directly to individual candidates’ campaigns. Only people who live in the political jurisdiction involved should be able to make direct contributions. The people who live in a state or district have the right to expect that that THEY will be represented in Congress and the Senate, not busybodies or monied types who don’t hail from that state or district, and should be able to clearly identify when outsiders are exercising their constitutional free-speech rights to influence their election. I really don’t understand why, from here in Ohio’s Second Congressional District, I have the legal right to contribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger re-election campaign in California, Joe Lieberman’s or Ted Lamont’s Connecticut senatorial campaign, or even Steve Chabot’s or John Cranley’s congressional campaign in the district next door to the one I live in. A contribution to a candidate is not speech; it’s a campaign contribution. You want speech? Open your mouth; write a letter; buy an ad.

So here’s my challenge to anyone who thinks they have a constitutionally-granted right to give money to any candidate, anywhere, any time — Show me anything the Founding Fathers said (anywhere, any time), or anything in the ORIGINAL text of the Constitution or other founding documents, specifically indicating that anyone at the time of our country’s founding would have found it acceptable for congressional candidates to rely on money coming from out-of-district sources (the Senate isn’t relevant to original intent, because until the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, senators were selected by state legislatures; and yes, I believe moving away from that was a mistake).

Court decisions DON’T COUNT. Founding document text and Founders’ statements are the ONLY things that qualify.

I’m perfectly willing to throw up the white flag if I’m wrong. Good luck.

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UPDATE: Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion wrote in an e-mail –

The problem that I see with your proposal is that Congressmen and Senators have impact well beyond just the areas they represent. Let’s see if somebody comes back with “No taxation without representation,” because there is, I think, an argument to be made there. There are congressional committees that make regulations that effect every state in the Union yet not every state in the Union is represented on the committees. For that reason alone, I think folks should have some say…

My response is that the free-speech right to “have your say” accomplishes making an impact without exerting financial influence over a campaign and potentially leading a candidate to represent his/her outside givers and not his/her constituents.

UPDATE 2: (links to come — added [finally] in the paragraphs on McEwen and Duckworth on August 27) David Keating at Club for Growth has a response up (thanks for the promptness) that hangs its hat on The First Amendment’s right of assembly:

“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

It seems to me clear that the people have the right to assemble support for a candidate they like, whether they live in the district or not. Votes taken in Congress affect everyone, not just those in the district.

Someone who believes in limited government should not be advocating laws to limit the people’s right and ability to change the government, which is exactly what this would do.

Ah, but David, the word “support” does not come after “assemble” in the Constitution. The right of assembly is a right to get together and exercise the First Amendment’s free-speech rights. Try again.

I find it hard to take that The Founders would have “supported” the idea of citizens from Massachusetts providing the lion’s share of campaign funding for a congressman running for a seat in Georgia in, say, 1802. I will suggest, absent specific evidence not yet provided, that they would have been appalled at the prospect. So as far as BizzyBlog is concerned, absent specific Founders’ commentary that would show me to be wrong, that part of The First Amendment doesn’t even get you in the neighborhood.

As to peoples’ “ability to change the government,” I’m concerned that, for example, in Ohio’s First District, residents’ “ability to change the government” (or keep it as it is, if they’re reasonably content) is being shortchanged when someone like George Soros and umpteen of his relatives bankroll John Cranley’s campaign against Steve Chabot. If elected, will Cranley pay more attention to Soros and MoveOn.org, or to the people of his district?

I was very concerned in May and June of 2005 that my “ability to change the government” (or in this case choose it, since it was an open seat) in Ohio’s Second District, where I live, was nearly taken away from me by out-of-state evangelicals and out-of-state Amway Quixtar “Independent Business Owners” who bankrolled carpetbagging Bob McEwen. What are the chances that “Homeless Bob,” if elected, would have represented the people of my this district, and not James Dobson, Dick Devos, or Bob’s K Street compadres from the previous decade or so?

Which leads to another point: Under the current ridiculous setup, a congressional candidate doesn’t have to live in his/her district (see Tammy Duckworth [IL-06] and “Green Card” Charlie Wilson [OH-06]), and there’s nothing stopping that same nonresident candidate from getting all of his or her campaign money from out of the district. If elected, exactly what degree of loyalty to the interests of his or her supposed constituents will such a candidate have? Or is that not important?

David is also concerned about cementing incumbents’ advantages. Given that I would not want there to be any restriction on anyone’s speech or ability to spend money to exercise that speech, I simply don’t agree. Remember that the incumbent can only get direct campaign money from within his or her district too. And there’s nothing stopping the Club, or George Soros, or anyone else from flooding the airwaves with their issue ads supporting challengers they favor. Outsiders just don’t get to directly buy politicians. “Surprise” — I don’t see that as a bad thing. Libs might argue that “indirect influence” through ads vs. direct contributions is a distinction without a difference, but I disagree. Someone who supported me with their speech would have my gratitude; someone who directly supported my campaign would have a lot more than that, which is why it should be limited to a jurisdiction’s residents.

The need for specific Founders’ support for outside contributions to congressional campaigns remains.

UPDATE 3: To be clear, the restriction I’m suggesting should be THE ONLY ONE I believe should exist. I reject McCain-Feingold’s restrictions on speech, ads, etc. I reject contribution limits; people inside the area where the political office is being contested should be able to give as much as they wish to the candidate of their choice, as long as all contributions are disclosed as close to instantaneously as possible.

UPDATE 4: Maybe the best argument that The Founders never dreamed that there would or should be cross-jurisdiction political contributions is the fact that the state legislatures originally picked senators. But then I’m supposed to believe that they would have been OK with Carolina money funding Connecticut races? I don’t think so. UPDATE 4A: The 10th Amendment’s impact here is interesting too, as it says that powers not enumerated belong to the states first and then the people. To me this gives states the ablity/duty to run their affairs (including elections) free of federal or out-of-state influence. But I’m still waiting on Founders’ or Founding Document citations showing that I’m wrong…..

UPDATE 5, Aug. 25: Say Anything responds to David Keating’s response to this original post. Keating comes back. Neither of us is advocating regulating speech, David; you can talk, advertise, mail, and advocate to your heart’s content. And neither of us sees a constitution- or Founders-based reason why we’re wrong. We’re still waiting.

More Proof That Wal-Mart Has Lost Its Way?

Filed under: Business Moves,Consumer Outrage,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:29 am

Note: This is from Reuters, so I’m skeptical that this is the whole story, hence the question mark on the post title.
______________________________

Would Sam Walton have allowed this?

Wal-Mart welcomes Chinese communists
No. 1 retailer allows Communist Party to set up branch in China store

BEIJING (Reuters) — The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is now host to the world’s largest communist party, state media said on Thursday, after establishing the first party branch in one of the U.S. company’s China stores.

A Chinese Communist Party official in the northeast city Shenyang said a Wal-Mart store there had set up a party branch on Aug. 12 – the first branch of the ruling Communist Party in the U.S. icon of global capitalism, Xinhua news agency reported.

Employees at the Wal-Mart store will now have access to CPC membership,” Xinhua said, referring to the Communist Party of China.

It did not say how many of the 700 Wal-Mart employees at the Shenyang store had applied to join the 70-million strong party.

A Wal-Mart spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the report.

The announcement comes soon after Wal-Mart bowed to a Chinese government campaign to establish state-controlled trade unions in its outlets across the country.

Video-Blogging Pros and Cons

Filed under: Business Moves,General — Tom @ 8:21 am

At first blush, it seems like a cool idea if you’ve got the bandwidth.

But how am I, middle-aged male schlub, supposed to compete with this, or this?

There’s a reason those old AT&T Videophones never caught on.

Do you think the Feds would pay attention to an unfair V-Blogging complaint?

Zombietime Exposes the Red Cross Ambulance Hoax (and Even More Fauxtography Examples)

All the world may or may not be a stage, but it’s looking more and more like all the news from the Mideast is indeed staged.

ZombieTime has the definitive post on how the WORMs (Worn-Out Reactionary Media, known to most as the formerly Mainstream Media) have been played by, co-opted by, or co-conspirators with (take your pick) Hezbollah and the Lebanese Red Cross (not necessarily in that order) in The Red Cross Ambulance Incident (HT Allah at Hot Air; final update at post). I believe it will come to be seen as THE definitive case study in media manipulation that comes out of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

There is no substitute for reading the whole lengthy, thoroughly researched, and devastating post. ZT believes that it turned world sentiment against Israel and changed the course of the conflict:

The ambulance incident, however, was anything but trivial. The media accused Israel of the most heinous type of war crime: intentionally targeting neutral ambulances which were attempting to rescue innocent victims. If true — and it is almost universally accepted as true — then Israel would lose any claim to moral superiority in the conflict. The commanders who ordered the strike should be brought up on war-crimes charges. As it is, the worldwide outcry over Israel’s purported malfeasances grew so strident that the country was pressured into a ceasefire. The media’s depictions of Israel’s actions so influenced public opinion that Israel felt compelled to end the fighting right at the moment it was starting to gain the upper hand. And as a result, Hezbollah has now claimed victory.

There’s little doubt now that it was all a hoax. I anxiously await the retractions (not).

Once again, as I have stated before, what we’re seeing is nearly an entire industry that is seemingly willing to go to any length to please its Arab-state paymasters, even if it means a total loss of long-term credibility.

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Related:

  • Kevin Sites reports (6th para; HT LGF) that he can’t take pictures without written Hezbollah permission.
  • The BBC matter-of-factly admits staging a photo (HT e-mailer Larwyn). Ace thinks that’s progress because they admitted it.
  • The Boston Herald editorialized Sunday — “Better no pictures than phony ones”
  • EU Referendum: “The very strong indications are that the body of baby Hashim was uncovered early in the recovery effort by two Red Cross workers and subsequently re-buried so that it could be ‘discovered’ by ‘Green Helmet’ in a way that maximised the propaganda value.”

This Is Not Me, But It Could Be

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 8:11 am

From Peoria, IL:

Von Steuben Middle School Assistant Principal Tom Blumer broke the news toward the end of Tuesday’s announcements: Peanut butter sandwiches would no longer be served in the cafeteria this school year.

I support the school’s policy change. It so happens that I’m allergic to peanuts.

Note: I’m kidding about the peanut butter sandwich ban. No one else in my family was allergic when I was growing up, and they ate peanuts and peanut butter often. As someone who is affected worse than average by even the smell, I nevertheless think the idea of banning PBJs is silly.

Existing-home Sales “Plunge,” But This Is NOT an “Implosion” (Updated for New-Home Sales)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 8:06 am

From MarketWatch (link requires free registration):

July was dry for the U.S. real estate market, as sales of existing homes plunged 4.1% to a two-year low, prices stagnated and the number of homes on the market soared to a 13-year high, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors released Wednesday.

The report shows a continued implosion in the housing market, with inventories up sharply while prices are softening. Sales are down 11.4% in the past year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.33 million compared with 6.60 million in June.

OK, not pretty. But in historical context, it simply is not as ugly as indicated:

So we’re roughly back to a level between 2003 and 2004. EVERYBODY was saying that the housing market was overheated in 2004 and 2005, and that the sales rates in those years were not sustainable over the long term. Additionally, please, PLEASE note that the median nationwide sales price has NOT dropped.

True, the 2004-2005 market built up expectations for sellers; hence the high inventory number. But this too will pass as expectations align with reality — perhaps with selling prices that were lower than a year ago by the time it all sorts out, but perhaps not.

The big point is that this is NOT an implosion. I’m not going to sit here and say that an implosion isn’t possible, but I’ll be dipped if I’m going to let MarketWatch claim that one is happening now when it clearly isn’t.

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UPDATE: The following exchange took place later this morning –

(from Tom Blumer to Rex Nutting, the article’s author)

It (your report) wasn’t balanced. If you had shown your readers the 2003-2006 chart that is here and considered it in light of what everyone was saying in 2004-2005 (“this isn’t sustainable”), it becomes clear that there is no “implosion” going on:

http://www.haver.com/

I posted on your article:

http://www.bizzyblog.com/2006/08/24/existing-home-sales-plunge/

+++++++++++++

(From Rex to Tom)

Everyone was saying it wasn’t sustainable and now we are getting the proof of that.

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(From Tom to Rex)

Fine. Then what is happening isn’t an “implosion” (“a violent collapse inward”).

And I missed where you told readers that 2004-2005 “wasn’t sustainable,” or that annual sales level are still above what they were before the 2004-2005 boom.

UPDATE 2: Here’s the new-home big picture released today (note — I believe the Y/Y column is miscalculated, and should read -16.2% [-208/1280] and -1.8% [-$4,208/$234,208]):

New-home sales, which are more volatile, are slightly below the 2003 level, again at about the level they were before the unsustainable overheating of 2004 and 2005. The median price is down a little less than 2% from a year ago. Lower new-home sales are surely not good news for the homebuilding industry, whose profits have suffered during the past few quarters. But lower new-home prices aren’t hurting prospective homebuyers, who don’t suffer from a loss in asset values because ….. they’re not homeowners yet.

Nothing in today’s new-home information indicates an “implosion,” either.

UPDATE 3: Ken Shepherd at the Business & Media Institute has a great piece on how television news coverage is inaccurately playing up the “Housing Chill.”

UPDATE 4: Commenter “dscott” has some great historical perspective and analysis of the current situation at the related NewsBusters post.

Cross-posted (except Updates 3 and 4) at NewsBusters.org.

New York State Saves Money; Guess What Else Didn’t Happen?

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:01 am

From Albany’s business weekly:

Starting Sept. 10, New York state will stop cutting hundreds of thousands of unemployment insurance checks each week and have recipients access benefits with debit cards instead.

….. The system will save New York an estimated $4 million in check-printing, mailing and other costs of the paper-check system …..

And, as night follows day:

No reductions in the unemployment insurance assessments on employers will occur because of the change in payment method …..

Quick Takes (082406)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:56 am

Geez, each of these could be a post unto itself if there were 48 hours in a day. Quick references will have to suffice:

  • Powerline catches a WashTimes article reporting that the Norway’s UN ambassador knew of oil-for-food corruption in 2003 but didn’t report it because it would help President Bush’s case of war. It seems like there are quite a few people (another example here) who don’t want to do their job if by doing so they help the president do his.
  • Here’s a follow-up to Illegal Alien Trash” (not the people, but what they leave behind) — A USA Today article Tuesday reported that from 2003 to 2005, “The (federal) Bureau of Land Management, which oversees land along 155 miles of the (Mexico-US) border ….. removed 700 abandoned cars and 250,000 pounds of trash in southern Arizona” – All left by illegals attempting to enter the US through the Arizona desert.
  • Law firm Milberg Weiss, which faces criminal charges of fraud, conspiracy and more in connection with an alleged kickback scheme to illegally compensate shareholder lawsuit plaintiffs, is losing partners by the dozen.
  • NixGuy reinforces a point relating to why “Net Neutrality” legislation isn’t necessary — FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras has stated it has the ability and willingness to “investigate discriminatory practices from broadband providers.”
  • My take on the Lieberman freeze-out by Democrat web-development firms — Business must be awfully good for you guys to be turning down good work from a well-funded campaign. That must mean the economy’s pretty strong, that it’s hard to find good people, and the ones you find expect to get paid a lot, and ….. thanks for confirming that we’re in pretty good shape.
  • This is a debate that will rage for years — whether companies should allow employees general Internet access while at work. Some of the things a Microsoft spokesperson said on the topic at a Microsoft conference in Australia were not helpful (HT Instapundit, who is firmly in the unfettered access camp) and some of the commenters at the link let her have it. Or, it may be that the debate will be over in a couple of years — employees who don’t want to be restricted to the company network will do the WiMax thing. I know several people who either do dial-up at work or glom on to a nearby wireless network to avoid using their company’s network.
  • Marc Danzinger joins the chorus voicing alarm over poor controls over e-voting machines and the programs that run them.
  • Tim Worstall has an address you should give out to anyone who doesn’t think their federal taxes are high enough.
  • Constantin Gurdgiev at TCS Daily thinks it might be time for a tax on bizarre French ideas — like taxing text messages (covered previously here).

Positivity: Katrina Survivors Meet Miracle Dolphins

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

Families who surivived the hurricane met with dolphins who also did:

August 16, 2006

As the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, signs of hope are welcome.

Nowhere are they more abundant than with the “Miracle 16″ dolphins, giving reason to smile to some of the hurricane’s human victims.

As the hurricane approached, half of these dolphins were evacuated from their home at the Gulfport, Miss., Oceanarium to hotel pools on high ground.

Eight had to stay behind, and eventually they disappeared.

“From all the stories and accounts of the way the storm hit, we believe the water rose and a big wave knocked out their show pool,” said Teri Corbett of the Marine Mammal Operations at the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas.

“How they got out, who knows?”

Two weeks later, all eight dolphins, including two mothers and their babies, were spotted alive and together.

“A few of them got beat up,” Corbett said. “They looked like they had some puncture wounds around the body. They were dehydrated. Looking for food, they found heads of a hammer, heads of a golf clubs, just general garbage.”

The directors at the Atlantis Paradise island resort in the Bahamas heard of the dolphins’ plight and offered to give them a new home.

After a grueling transport, which spanned two days and hundreds of miles, all sixteen dolphins were reunited.

Hotel directors started a program to unite the dolphins with their two-legged counterparts: human families with young children who had survived the same hurricane.

That’s how 17 families who had survived Katrina were invited to the hotel last week for a swim with a fellow survivor.