This is not an issue that ignites the imagination of the American people. It is way, way down the list of their concerns.
This is a bill that interests certain American newspapers a great deal. The New York Times, for instance, has editorialized in favor of the law no less than once a week for the past month and a half.
What is the main reason we are given for this legislation? The politicians are telling us we need the bill because they are corruptible. Does it make any sense to suggest that what we really need are incorruptible politicians?
The bill would not forbid newspapers (like the New York Times) from running those very same paid advertisements during the last 60 days leading up to an election.
The bill would require television stations to give discounted advertising to political candidates. The bill would not require newspapers to give discounted advertising to political candidates (more on this below).
If there is a political party out there whose message and philosophy you like, and whose cause you would like to promote, you will not be allowed to donate money to that political party.
Let's say you are a member of a group promoting the idea of tax reform. One of the major-party presidential candidates supports your cause. You want to place an ad on your local radio station promoting your cause and the candidate who supports it. Free speech? Forget it. You won't be allowed to place the ad in the 60 days leading up to the election.
This bill recognizes a dangerous truth. Most Americans rely on broadcast rather than print media for their news and information. The print media is afforded the protection of the First Amendment by our courts. The broadcast media generally is not.
The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that giving money to a political party or in support of a particular political cause is a method of expressing one's political beliefs and, as such, is speech protected by the First Amendment.
These august members of the United States Senate have passed a bill that they very well know contains unconstitutional elements. Why would a responsible U.S. senator with any sense of the rule of law do such a thing? Wouldn't it be nice to have members of "The Greatest Deliberative Body in the World" concerned about the legality of their actions?
What we really need? A better class of voters. That would bring us a better class of politicians and eliminate the need for restricting political free speech in this manner.
OK, this is a repeat of something from this column last week. I'm repeating it again here because (1) the provision was contained in the bill that passed the Senate on Friday and (2) I would like to generate some conversation about this on the air.
Part of this campaign finance reform push is to force television stations to cut advertising rates for politicians during an election.
Do you like this idea? Are you sitting there in your office saying, "Yeah! That's it! If these greedy broadcasting
companies would lower their rates, more candidates would be able to advertise. That way they wouldn't need so
much money to run for office."
Or perhaps you're one of those clear-thinkers out there who think that radio and television stations ought to be
forced to just flat give away advertising to candidates.
The key here is the use of the word "force." Remember, that's the one asset that government has that you don't
have; I don't have; and businesses and corporations don't have. Government can establish a goal and then use
force – deadly force – to accomplish that goal.
In this case the intent of the government is to use force to seize inventory from private businesses and turn that
inventory over to political candidates for their own use.
How many people would agree with a law that would force printing companies to give politicians a deal? How
about forcing airlines to sell politicians cut-rate tickets? Maybe we should force outdoor advertising companies
to give free billboards to politicians.
Should a politician be allowed to use the government to seize the property or a portion of the inventory of a
private individual or a private business just because that politician may need that property for a political
Radio and television stations are private businesses. They basically have only one item to sell. That item is time.
Time has no shelf life. Broadcast stations cannot manufacture and warehouse inventory to save for
high-demand days. Every day, every hour they have a set, finite amount of inventory they can sell, no more. In
order to make a profit for their shareholders and employee profit-sharing plans, these broadcasters have to get
as much money for each and every advertising minute that they can.
Putting it simply, if a law is passed forcing a broadcaster to give free or reduced-rate advertising to a political
candidate, then that candidate is being allowed to simply confiscate a portion of that private business's
inventory to be used for his political purposes.
How many of you think this is a good idea?
Mary Frances Berry is the head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is investigating voting-rights
abuses in Florida. Speaking to about 20 students and faculty at a community college in Pennsylvania, Berry
said she wished Al Gore had won the election.
Berry added that if Gore had been elected president, she wouldn't have to worry about George W. Bush filling
federal judgeship openings with "very conservative" judges. And she said her second-biggest worry about the
Bush administration is its handling of the economy.
So, what is a "very conservative" judge? Well, Bush has said that he intends to appoint judges who believe in
and interpret our Constitution strictly. In other words, judges who will abide by and enforce the rule of law. That,
to Ms. Berry, is troublesome.
Oh … and as far as violating election laws is concerned: Did you know that the U.S. Commission on Civil
Rights, despite two lengthy public hearings in Florida, has not yet identified a single violation of election law by
any public elections official? Rest assured, though, that the commission will keep looking.
Mary Frances Berry and her Democratic cheerleaders are determined to find the evidence that fits their agenda.
And Berry isn't too worried about looking partisan while the investigation continues.
Queen Hillary is sponsoring a bill with Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter. The bill requires full disclosure of anyone
lobbying for a presidential pardon. That includes donors who give $5,000 or more to presidential libraries.
The Clinton-friendly media are eager to report her support for pardon reform ... but did you know that she's also
insisting that the Clinton administration be exempted from the rules? She made it a requirement that the rules
not be made retroactive to cover the last-minute pardons Bill Clinton made in January.
Evidently pardon reform is good for everyone else but her and her husband.
Paul Bedard of U.S. News & World Report says Hillary Clinton isn't exactly wowing the ethics watchdogs.
That's because, in explaining her need for a huge Manhattan suite that costs more than half a million (taxpayer)
dollars a year to rent, the World's Smartest Woman says she has to house 60 interns to handle constituent
casework. But if you look on Page 112 of the Senate Ethics Manual, it says interns aren't supposed to handle
"official or officially-connected activities of the Senate office." Volunteers are there for their "educational
But critics say she's violating workplace rules and privacy issues related to the casework. And, although misuse
of interns isn't anything new in the Senate offices, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation says
Hitlary is "probably the most blatant abuser."
I'll bet you New Yorkers are so proud of your junior senator. Not only is she unconcerned about sticking it to you
for half a million dollars a year, but she's also taking advantage of the help!
Are you so sure you want her to be your next president, too?
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