Sunday, June 17, 2012

McConnell "free speech" speech

On Friday, Mitch McConnell gave as speech to the American Enterprise Institute.  For the time being I will use the below article from The Washington Post as a description of the speech.

McConnell defends political contributions as free speech

By Kathleen Hunter, Published: June 15

The Senate’s top Republican accused President Obama and congressional Democrats of trying to restrict opponents’ political speech.
In a speech Friday at the American Enterprise Institute, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said the Obama administration has shown “an alarming willingness itself to use the powers of government to silence” political speech of groups with which it disagrees.
“It is critically important for all conservatives — and indeed all Americans — to stand up and unite in defense of the freedom to organize around the causes we believe in, and against any effort that would constrain our ability to do so,” McConnell said in the speech at AEI, a Washington group that says it supports free enterprise.
McConnell, long an opponent of restrictions on political contributions, cited a Democratic proposal to require corporations and unions to disclose their spending on political advertising.
He said it would require “government- ­compelled disclosure of contributions to all grass-roots groups, which is far more dangerous than its proponents are willing to admit.”
“This is nothing less than an effort by the government itself to expose its critics to harassment and intimidation, either by government authorities or through third-party allies,” McConnell said.
Democrats proposed the disclosure measure in response to a 2010 Supreme Court decision overturning a decades-old ban on companies using general funds to run ads supporting or opposing federal candidates.
The ruling led to the rise of political organizations known as super PACs, which can raise unlimited money from any source. A number of super PACs have formed to influence the 2012 presidential and congressional races.
The House passed the measure in 2010, when Democrats controlled the chamber. The legislation did not advance in the Senate, where all the Republicans opposed it.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), held a March hearing on a scaled-back version and has said he may seek another vote on it before the November elections.
McConnell singled out the Internal Revenue Service for criticism.
“Earlier this year, dozens of tea party-affiliated groups across the country learned what it was like to draw the attention of the speech police when they received a lengthy questionnaire from the IRS demanding attendance lists, meeting transcripts and donor information,” he said.
The IRS has denied that it selects groups for scrutiny based on their political views.
IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman said March 21 that the tea party groups had applied for nonprofit status and could have operated as nonprofits without seeking IRS approval first.
“There’s many safeguards built in so this has nothing to do with election cycles and politics,” he told a House Appropriations subcommittee. “This notion that we’re targeting anyone is off.”
— Bloomberg News 

[end of article]

On the matter of campaign finance, there are probably millions of voters who now  agree with Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig that “Practically every important issue in American politics today is tied to this ‘one issue [campaign finance],’" and the overriding agenda (invoking Thoreau) should be to attack “the root, the thing that feeds the other ills, and the thing that we must kill first.”

It can be well hoped that McConnell's speech will help instigate a national and Congressional debate on the issue of campaign finance, including whether and to what extent the right of free speech should include the right to speak anonymously, the extent to which corporations (and other organizations) need to have a constitutionally protected right of free speech, and whether and the extent to which more rigorous truthfulness standards should be applicable to political speech (e.g. to political speech of corporations).

You may find comments I have posted at the following webpages:
AEI online magazine The American
Breitbart (lot of comments if you want to weigh in; I don't know for sure I have one there)
Unedited Politics
Marooned in Marin (pending approval)
National Review

[also trying to engage Professor Lawrence Lessig and Wall Street Journal]
From: Robert Shattuck <>
Date: Sun, Jun 17, 2012 at 5:39 PM
Subject: Fwd: Professor Lessig's Republic, Lost
To:, Lawrence Lessig <>
Dear Ms. Strassel and Professor Lessig,
I appreciate that Professor Lessig acknowledged my email.
Regarding Senator McConnell's "free speech" speech to the AEI on Friday, I hope that the speech will help instigate a national and Congressional debate on the issue of campaign finance, including whether and to what extent the right of free speech should include the right to speak anonymously, the extent to which corporations (and other organizations) need to have a constitutionally protected right of free speech, and whether and the extent to which more rigorous truthfulness standards should be applied to political speech (e.g. to political speech of corporations).
I hope Professor Lessig is looking for and will find a forum next week in which to make a reply to Senator McConnell. I hope The Wall Street Journal will take up debate.
Rob Shattuck

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Lawrence Lessig <>
Date: Sun, Jun 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM
Subject: Re: Professor Lessig's Republic, Lost
To: Robert Shattuck <>
thanks for sending this.

From: Robert Shattuck <>
Date: Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 5:02 PM
Subject: Professor Lessig's Republic, Lost
Dear Ms. Strassel,
I have been following your recent op/ed pieces such as The Corporate Disclosure Ruse.
In Republic, Lost Professor Lawrence Lessig says about campaign finance that “Practically every important issue in American politics today is tied to this ‘one issue,’" and the overriding agenda (invoking Thoreau) should be to attack “the root, the thing that feeds the other ills, and the thing that we must kill first.”
I don't know whether you will take the time to answer this email, but I would like to ask:
1. Where do you rank campaign finance as an important national issue that Congress, the President and the country should have a national debate about, with a view to the Congress, the President and the country "doing something" to change the current state of affairs related to campaign finance?
2. Do you, or does the Editorial Board, think this is an issue that should be raised by Obama and Romney in their Presidential campaigns?
I am an intensely interested citizen, as you may glean from my blog Voters' Victory in 2012.
I will understand if you cannot take the time to answer this email, but I wanted to ask anyway.
Thank you.
Rob Shattuck
Birmingham, AL

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Current summary

In this entry, which I will update periodically, I will report my current subjective sense of the situation regarding my efforts and what others are doing and how they are responding.

There is near overwhelming vastness to what is going on.  For this purpose, let's carve out those who are doing what they do politically because they are paid do it and could and would do the opposite politically if they were paid to do the opposite.  Excluding the mercenaries, there are thousands of organizations, millions of voters who are more than passive, and scores of important national problems and issues that citizens desire addressing politically.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost in the maze.

There is great comfort in identifying with either the Democratic or Republican party, sticking with it, and not venturing to talk with and try to understand the other side.

The non-mercenary have their lives to tend to, and the time and effort they expend in the political arena gains them nothing in taking care of their obligations and responsibilities to their jobs and families.  In this regard, the non-mercenary are at a tremendous disadvantage in doing battle with the mercenary.

There are a lot of dedicated non-mercenaries who have toiled for years with scant reward for their efforts.  Some of them, such as the Libertarian Party and the Reform Party, are trying to build a third party that is significant.  I don't know when it was founded, but Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington probably feels that it has lost and not gained ground over the years in battling the Washington DC cesspool of corruption.

These non-mercenaries have a lot of experience with and knowledge about what they are up against that is deserving of respect regarding the decisions they make about how they deploy their limited resources in trying to achieve their objectives.

There is much commonality and overlap of objectives.  While I am an advocate of the joinder of forces against the common enemy, the missions and strategies are sufficiently different that a huge impediment exists to obtaining much in the way of effective joinder.

There are important issues other than that of campaign finance, and there seems little prospect of getting an organization like the Reform Party to put aside temporarily the other issues and exclusively dedicate itself temporarily to fixing campaign finance.

Even on campaign finance, there is a major impediment to unified action that organizations and their members have differing ideas about what should be done.

You can review the communications I have had with the various organizations, and you will, I think, understand why my current evaluation is that I have basically not persuaded anyone to take up with me in making my advocacy and I am doubtful of achieving any better success before November.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Free Speech For People

From: Robert Shattuck <>
Date: Sat, Jun 2, 2012 at 5:19 AM
To: jclements@__________

Dear Mr. Clements,

I could not find a contact email address on the website, so I searched and found your above office email address.

I am very interested and active, as you can discern from my own blog Voters' Victory in 2012.

I would like to focus on the Free Speech for People survey of support that shows: Democrats - 87%: Independents - 82%; Republicans -68%.

I would like to contrast that with the the list of State Resolutions Introduced in Support of Amending the Constitution. On that list, all the state legislators who are listed as introducing bills show a Democratic party affiliation, except one legislator who shows an Independent affiliation, and there are no Republican state legislators shown as introducing bills.

I would like to ask you, what do you say to people who are moved to say, "well, Free Speech for People is just a front for Democrats who want to strengthen their hand in carrying out a Democratic Party agenda"?

Thank you.

Rob Shattuck

Saturday, June 2, 2012

From: Robert Shattuck <>
Date: Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 7:42 PM
Subject: Dear No Labels
Cc: "Independent" <>, David Collison <>, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap <>, Tim Cox <>

Dear No Labels (,

Here are bottom line questions I put to this morning:

Does the country have a big ailment in how its Congress gets elected, governs and stays elected, which ailment is of first priority for the country to have a national (and Congressional) debate about?  If so, does the sitting Congress owe it to the country to initiate and carry out such a debate and to make a responsive proposal to the country for the country's consideration?  Will Congress do that of its own accord?  If not, should the American people rise up in unison and demand that Congress have this debate and make a proposal and threaten Congress with eviction if it is not responsive to that demand of the American people?

No Labels, on its website, describes the bottom line problem as follows:

The government in Washington is no longer capable of solving the very real problems facing America. Before every election, our politicians make promises about how they will fix our tax system. Our immigration laws. Our schools. Our budget issues. But after every election, these promises are crushed under the weight of the same poisonous rhetoric and hyper-partisanship.
We, the American people, are the collateral damage of this partisan warfare, saddled with debts we can’t afford and an economy that no longer creates enough good jobs with good pay.

My diagnosis of the "poisonous rhetoric and hyper-partisanship" that crushes "the promises about how they [the politicians] will fix our [problems]" is set forth in my Thesis this way:

There is an "iron triangle" in Washington D.C. of lawmakers (both Republicans and Democratics), lobbyists, and special interest organizations, that profits enormously from tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars sloshing around in Washington in a cesspool of, call it what you want, "influence peddling," "government for sale," or just plain corruption.
This "iron triangle" finds the political divisions, polarization and gridlock, in which every issue can be turned into a life and death, us against them, battle, as very advantageous for preserving their positions and riches. This distracts the citizens from the rampant corruption going on in Washington and associated failures in Congressional performance and keeps the voters from uniting to take action against the corrupt participants in the Washington cesspool.

Is there common ground here for organizations such as the Reform PartyGOOOHMove To, and No Labels, to speak with a united voice and increase their influence?  I sure wish that is the case.

Thank you.

Rob Shattuck
Birmingham, ALL