Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Free Speech" Winnows the List of Candidates

Winnow (noun) The act of separating grain from chaff.

If we are indeed winnowing, then America has been winnowed into three guys left standing on the Republican side and two Democrats. Something like 5 out of 24, depending on who you count. Whether they are wheat or chaff depends upon your point of view.


Mccaingiuliani Winnow (noun) The act of separating grain from chaff.
If we are indeed winnowing, then America has been winnowed into three guys left standing on the Republican side and two Democrats. Something like 5 out of 24, depending on who you count. Whether they are wheat or chaff depends upon your point of view.
This, with less that 1% of the electorate having had a chance to put their mark on a ballot or finger on a screen. Free speech is not so free anymore.
The latest numbers (always a calendar quarter behind because of reporting regulations) stripped mainstream America of the voices of
  • Fred Thompson
  • Bill Richardson
  • Ron Paul
  • Dennis Kucinich
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Joe Biden
and are about to add John Edwards to the list.
Obamaclinton How you feel about that depends upon how hot you are to see Hillary or Barack, Mitt, Rudy or John lead the country. Is it enough to have the choice by dollars raised rather than votes counted?
If it is, then why not just do a national copy of that thermometer the United Way used to tell us how we were doing on their fund-raising in town?
UnitedwaythermometerForget the rhetoric.
The point I’m trying to make is that the Supreme Court, some decades back, irreparably muddied the distinction between ‘free speech’ and the ‘freedom to speak.’ We are constitutionally protected in our right to the freedom to speak. Stand up and voice your opinion. Write whatever the papers will print.
Blame the media if you care to. Along with an addiction to polls, it’s another American need to find blame, to have someone to pin the goods on and then get on with our lives. There’s no convenient evil upon which to blame the hijacking of speech in America.
But the Court made it law. Time after time after time, in a frenzy of dithering, our highest court stood meekly in defense of whoever had the bucks to demagogue the subject of their choice.
  • Attack ads to defeat gun control—just write the checks.
  • Anti-gay, anti-conservative, anti-liberal, anti-war, anti-Islam—all you need is enough money to swamp the opposition. Not with speech, with media.
  • Lawsuits to manhandle your way into this or that issue? You got the money, honey, I got the time.
I am certainly not so naïve as to think that money wasn't always a weapon for or against public opinion.
But it seems prudent to take a look at the longest-running, most arduent, mind-bogglingly unending presidential race (that has been going on for a year and a half already and has near a year left to run). Essentially, it's been settled for us in five days.
Stewartjon By the electorate? Not on your life. Iowa and New Hampshire. What a laugh.
As Jon Stewart quipped, it's been determined by “cold white people and colder white people.”
Issues will get hot though as this veritable tie among front-runners develops. But they’ll heat up without the voices of Fred, Bill and Ron; Dennis, Mike and Joe. There won’t be a “hey, wait a minute” voice. No designated hitter in this ball-game.
The front-runners will hedge, slice and dice their bets slicker than sub-prime mortgages. American politics has become a mad rush for the center of the ‘base,’ whatever the hell the base is and however the pollsters define it for us.
We've become another commodity. Shake us, bake us, tag our ear and ship us.
Edwardsjohn In two days we will have the results in Michigan and Hillary and Barack need not spend another moment (during the race or afterward) giving a damn about lost jobs and pensions in the Wolverine State. Hillary and Barack have each raised $100 million and John Edwards (outfunded by three to one) will no doubt throw in the towel in a few days.
No matter that John Edwards (probably) best represents Michigan’s problems and the solutions to those problems. He’ll lose in Michigan as he lost in Iowa and NH, because the most expensive speech the nation has seen to date will not let him be heard. We (and Michigan) are only allowed to hear the best speech money can buy.
Romneymitt On the Republican side, Michiganders (what’s good for the Michigoose is good for the Michigander) will hear Mitt Romney boast his Michigan roots. Not to worry that he got the hell out as soon as he could leave that wounded state of his birth behind, his $70 million or so (20 of it out of his own pocket) will drown everyone but Rudy and John McCain. McCain only because he’s waxing instead of waning—money-wise.
Major contributors are afraid Mitt and Rudy are unelectable and suddenly this election looks like it might actually be a horse-race. So money is suddenly flowing to McCain and with money, he can win (at least the nomination). So think the Republican influence peddlers, anyway. And hey, if John loses, he’s still a very powerful Senator. Money like that is always very well spent.
In case you haven’t noticed, ditto Hillary and Barack.
Bidenjoe Which leaves you and I, Joe Biden, Mike Huckabee, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul and the other poor slobs who stand in the rain to vote, with choices made by others. Limited choice. Choice devoted to the status quo.
Particularly the quo.
Don’t blame Thomas Jefferson, he was operating in the days of pamphleteering on the streets and bar-room oratory. Don’t blame Rupert Murdoch, who’s just working by the rules God, his lawyers and his lobbyists gave him. Don’t even blame Chief Justice Roberts or Justices Souter, Alito or Thomas; this misinterpretation began long before they were on board.
But it is a misinterpretation.
Huckabeemike The freedom to buy as much speech as you are able to pay for is in no way the same as free speech. The ability to swift-boat John Kerry is perhaps the easiest and most egregiously false-flagged example I can come up with.
But if you are a supporter of Mike Huckabee or Joe Biden, know that your access to what they have to say has been taken from you.
Not by a wiser voice, but a louder one.
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