Wednesday, September 15, 2004

FEC Says Books May Not be "Media"

FEC commissioner hints that book publishers may not be "Media" and thus exempt from campaign finance laws:

Campaign Laws Could Suppress Partisan Books -- FEC COMMISSIONER: MEANING OF 'PRESS' NEEDS CLARIFYING

On Friday, the [Federal Election Commission] commission ruled unanimously that a conservative advocacy group called Citizens United was not entitled to a press exemption to promote a documentary or book entitled "The Many Faces of John Kerry, Why This Massachusetts Liberal Is Wrong for America."

The group did not have a "commercial interest" in promoting the book, and it had planned to pay to air the film, rather than to make money off it. It also did not have a history of book publishing, and its activities would not be part of a "normal, legitimate [media] function," the commission found.

Election-year books such as "Bush Must Go: The Top Ten Reasons Why George Bush Doesn't Deserve a Second Term," by Bill Press, and "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," by John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, contain the kind of "express advocacy" against specific candidates that cannot be paid for by corporate funds. "These could be subject to government regulation (and potentially suppression) under the campaign finance laws, because they appear to expressly advocate the defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate, and are produced and promoted by corporations," wrote Mr. Smith in a little-noticed concurrence to a commission advisory opinion last week.

This article is referring to this FEC Advisory Opinion. In his concurrence, Chairman Smith (who may just be tweaking campaign spending restrictionists) writes:
As the documentary and book advertisements are not protected by the press
exemption of 2 U.S.C. 434(f), it would appear that they are also not protected
by the general press exemption of 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i), which uses
substantially identical language. That being the case, if they were to expressly
advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate, the production and
distribution costs would seem to entail numerous violations of the law,
including the ban on corporate expenditures, 2 U.S.C. 441b; the disclosure
provisions of 2 U.S.C. 441d; reporting requirements of 2 U.S.C. 434; and perhaps
various organizational and registration requirements of 2 U.S.C. 432 & 433.

Authors, their publishers, and the public at large should consider the
implications of applying the press exemption in this narrow fashion.
Documentaries and books as such are not specified as exempted activities in the
Act, which refers in pertinent part specifically to, "a news story, commentary,
or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcast station?;" 2
U.S.C. 434(f)(3)(B)(i), and, "any news story, commentary, or editorial
distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper,
magazine, or other periodical publication? ." 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i). Thus, under
a narrow approach, it may be that the publication and promotion of a number of
popular books are vulnerable to a similar result
So, basically, if the "media exception" is restricted to news, commentary, and editorials then book publishers who almost by definition don't do news, commentary, or editorial but rather exclusively commercially distribute the works of others may be subject to the new law.

This sees book publishing as a form of advertisement (like the Pennysaver newspapers) which corporations cannot do without following campaign law guidelines.

The argument is unlikely to actually restrict book publishers because of respect for tradition but "newscasters" like NRA may have more difficulty.

Typewriter Photo of the Day - The SG-1

It's been a great week for America's typewriter fans. Who'd have thought that my knowledge of '70s "document production systems" would be so significant in understanding the vital issues in this election.

In yesterday's fascinating (old media) Dallas Morning News story, LtC Killian's secretary, "Marian Carr Knox, who worked from 1957 to 1979 at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston", said:

the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time with the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia typewriter and the IBM Selectric that replaced it in the early 1970s.

She spoke fondly of the Olympia, which she said had a key with the "th" superscript character that has been the focus of much debate in the CBS memos.

Her manual office (not portable) typewriter was presumably an SG-1, -2, or -3. So in celebration of the one-week's anniversary of Rathergate, I present the Olympia SG-1:

Olympia SG-1

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

(Crowded) Slippery Slope in Wisconsin

The Mechanisms of the Slippery Slope working their magic:

Whole lotta love: 'Polyamorists' go beyond monogamy

Sitting in the shadow of an oak tree, John Wise described how the gay rights movement is laying the groundwork for polyamorists to acquire legal status for their three-, four- and more-way relationships.
"They're out doing the heavy lifting for us," Wise, a New Jersey attorney and father of two teenage children, said of the gay rights movement. "They're bringing us the equal protection that we're entitled to."
"We're queerer than queer," said Wise's wife, Nan, a psychotherapist who is writing a book she hopes will normalize the idea of three or four adults living in a committed sexual relationship.

"We're the new gay," she said, referring less to the sexual orientation of polyamorists - most whom are neither gay nor bisexual - than to the way society perceives them.
Like many of those at this conference, Whitnable said the polyamory movement is where gays and lesbians were in the 1950s and '60s - a community lacking mainstream cultural acceptance, let alone legal standing.

"Polys are following the same path," he said. "At the moment it's just about awareness."

When will all of this get around to libertarian acceptance? We lack mainstream cultural acceptance too!

Rathergate as Crime Facilitating Speech

The CBS document forgery case is a perfect example of crime facilitating speech that is absolutely vital to a discussion of important public issues.

Any would-be forgers out there who read and follow all the links listed in this Little Green Footballs post will be well equipped with advice on how to improve their forgeries.

Yet the disclosure of this specific information is necessary if the public is to judge the authenticity of the documents and make up its mind on the issues presented.