Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm Myron Ebell and you don't need to know that BP paid for this message

Myron Ebell is furious:
The Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act is designed to undo key parts of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court ruled that provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation that prohibited corporations, including non-profit 501C4s such as the NRA and Freedom Action, from exercising their first amendment free speech rights in political campaigns were unconstitutional. The DISCLOSE Act would require advocacy groups engaged in election-related activities, but not trade unions, to disclose their donors in a number of ways.

Under the deal the NRA made with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the NRA would now, along with trade unions, be exempt from the disclosure requirements. In return, the NRA has agreed to not oppose passage of the bill.


Myron Ebell, Director of Freedom Action, sharply criticized the NRA's sell-out.

"The NRA has proved itself to be part of the 'arrogant elite' it denounced just a few months ago," said Ebell. "Unfortunately, the only conclusion is that Mr. LaPierre is a hypocrite and the NRA is just another powerful special interest seeking special treatment.

"The new word from the NRA is, it's OK to deny free speech to Americans as long as the NRA gets a carve out," Ebell said. "Groups from every part of the political spectrum should vehemently oppose this plan that will chill free speech and participation in American elections."
I checked out what Lawrence Lessig says, as he's more from the preservation of the human species end of the political spectrum:
The vast majority of Americans -- both Democrats and Republicans -- considered the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United to be a colossal blunder. Whether or not the First Amendment compelled it (and IMHO, it didn't), as Justice Stevens rightly said in dissent, Americans don't believe that our politics needs more corporate influence. To the contrary, most believe it needs less. As we learn more about the blunders in mis-regulation bought by Wall Street billionaires, and as we watch black clouds of oil billowing from an offshore oil rig, never adequately inspected or monitored because regulators were "persuaded" by well (as in oil-well) funded lawmakers to turn a regulatory blind eye, who could think that this system needs more of the same? Who could believe that this system was working?
Being a pure idealist doesn't always win results. I just love to see the right wing party divided, with their their poor little corporate millionaires whinging about their free speech rights to talk like billionaires through Myron Ebell shaped meat puppets without declaring where their money is coming from.

Myron and his pals desperately want to be hired by BP so they can tell to the world about the great benefits of natural oils on sea life without looking like complete clowns at the end of their commercial. The bit they don't like about this law is where they'd have to end their TV ads like so:

(B) STATEMENT IF SIGNIFICANT FUNDER IS NOT AN INDIVIDUAL- If the significant funder of a communication paid for in whole or in part with a payment which is treated as a disbursement by a covered organization for campaign-related activity under section 325 is not an individual, the significant funder disclosure statement described in this paragraph is the following: 'I am XXXXXXX, the XXXXXXX of XXXXXXX. XXXXXXX helped to pay for this message, and XXXXXXX approves it.'

(i) the first blank to be filled in with the name of the applicable individual;

(ii) the second blank to be filled in with the title of the applicable individual;

(iii) the third, fourth, and fifth blank each to be filled in with the name of the significant funder of the communication.

At the moment only candidates' ads end with this type of formulation, as you can see at the end of this one by the Wicked Witch of the West:

As compromises and carve-outs go, selling out to the NRA looks like a pretty good deal from where I'm standing -- on the other side of the Atlantic, safely out of range of even the highest powered assault weapons that weird Yanks insist on clinging to.

Guns in America generally kill only other Americans, and this self-inflicted violence and damage does not necessarily get beyond their shores -- unlike their atmospheric and marine pollution, their foreign invasions, missiles, bombs, drugs, propaganda, diseases, lies and death.

If Myron Ebell is against it, it's almost always a good thing. So I call on Lessig to reconsider his position and support this bill whole-heartedly.

What's a few bullets between friends, when there are bigger threats to life at stake?


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