05 February 2010

The last thing I'll post about Citizens United, plus some other stuff

(Probably.  No promises, though.)
Reason: Hit & Run | Jesse Walker Taking Money Insurgents Out of Politics

Here's David Kurtz at the liberal site Talking Points Memo:
You may have heard that Larry Kudlow, the former Reagan economic adviser, diehard supply-sider, and CNBC host, is considering running against Chuck Schumer for U.S. Senate from New York.

How can Kudlow hope to match the fund-raising prowess of the incumbent Schumer? Thanks to the Supreme Court's decision on corporate contributions in the Citizens United case, we got it covered, a top Kudlow supporter and pal tells TPMDC.

"People who are worried about their taxes, particularly medium- and large-size businesses, would be more interested in helping Larry Kudlow than Chuck Schumer," John Lakian says.
Kurtz doesn't explicitly say that a well-funded pro-Kudlow ad campaign would be a bad thing. But last I checked, he didn't like the way Citizens United came out [...] But why? If the effect of the Court's decision is to make a race more competitive, so that even a powerful politician with a potent fundraising machine has to watch his back, doesn't that mean the system is now more rather than less democratic?

[...] Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the precedent that Citizens United overturned, dates back to 1990. If anyone has made the case that corporate influence in D.C. declined in the two decades while Austin was the law of the land, please point me to the argument, because I haven't seen it. What I have seen is a system that favors those who already have pull in Washington and who are better able to navigate a complex set of campaign finance regulations. If Citizens United means elections are now more open to outsiders, that's a reason to celebrate, not to mourn.
First, a caveat.  Corporation still can't contribute money to candidates' campaigns.  Citizens United doesn't change that.  It does allow them to produce media independently — including TV ads but also books, editorials, documentaries, etc — about candidates.  Just something to keep in mind because Kurtz, among many others, doesn't really seem to make that distinction.

On Walker's first point, this reminds me of the weird backlash against Amazon recently for fighting to keep prices to consumers lower.  In both cases the effect of the supposedly dastardly powers of "Big Business" — Kudlow's allies in the first and Amazon in the second — may actually increase competition.  See Megan McArdle for a full discussion.  Coyote Blog has a summary:
I have been kind of amazed at the backlash at Amazon over its showdown with Macmillan Publishing. As I understand it, Apple, with its new iPad, had adopted a strategy of wooing publishers by offering promises of higher retail prices, an offer Amazon basically refused to match. This dynamic (with retail discounters pleasing customers but ticking off manufacturers and product suppliers) is not at all new to retail. I am sure a lot of manufacturers wish Wal-Mart was never invented, but they have to try to play ball with them because Wal-Mart wields so much power with customers, in large part because of their pricing.
To Walker's second point, this reminds me of something LabRat recently said about Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
I will reiterate for those who are still arguing as though the issue is “we can’t have gays in military or there will be rape and murder in the showers”: we have had gay people in the military and in the showers clandestinely basically forever, officially-but-with-pretend-games for seventeen years, and openly in 23 other countries, some very much like us and and some less so. The predicted chaos and loss of effectiveness simply hasn’t happened.
We've tried running a democracy while simultaneously allowing corporate speech on political issues. The experiment was called "America before 1990." It was fine. It didn't work significantly differently than "America, 1990-2010." Businesses didn't buy senators by the bushel. Democracy didn't crash and burn. Everything was fine.

This is the same deal with married Catholic clergy. People get freaked out because in theory a married priest will have split loyalties blah blah blah and somehow neglect their pastoral duties. But guess what? The Protestants and Orthodox churches have been doing it that way for centuries with no ill effects. When your theory runs up against reality and doesn't check out then it's time to ABANDON THE DAMN THEORY.

PS I'd encourage you to also read LabRat's two other posts on DADT: one, two.  Real home runs.  She also links to a good post by a Marine here, and passes on the following comment from said Marine: "I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do. Unless they’re queer, and then the lying is mandatory."


  1. Regarding Citizens United:

    It would be helpful if going forward anyone who wishes to comment on the case should first have to articulate its holding. It's frustrating that many people continute to miscontrue what the Court actually said.

    I thought it was a close issue. On one hand, I thought McCain-Feingold regulations were perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, I find the majority's Constitutional reasoning perfectly sound. In fact, I find the minority's objections a little disingenuous given their role as interpreters of a legal TEXT rather than watchdogs of democratic elections.

  2. DPA: For the record I thought you articulated it correctly. No surprise there, fine sir.

    I find myself agreeing with like 95% of your posts. Maybe there was some sort of brain wave osmosis from sophomore year...

  3. Well I'm glad I got it right. You had me worried there for a minute.

    Right on about interpreting the text and not just aiming for whatever outcome judges think best.

    I like your osmosis theory. If I start using too much hairspray or taking college baseball way too seriously then you might just be on to something.