Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Money in Politics: Free Speech or Unequal Access?

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. – Thomas Jefferson
As a citizen of the United States, there is no right more sacrosanct than the right to vote and participate equally in the political process. We live in a constitutional democracy, which guarantees the principle of one person, one vote. I may not have money or fame, but I do have a vote, and my vote counts exactly the same as the vote cast by a billionaire or a Hollywood star.  

And yet, it is an accepted fact of American life that, in politics as in business, money reigns supreme. Money is needed to finance political campaigns; to pay for television and radio ads, brochures and campaign literature, and full-time staff. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the average cost in 2012 of winning a seat in the House was $1.6 million; in the Senate, nearly $12 million. In American politics, some voters are more equal than others. Those with money to help finance campaigns are more highly valued by candidates for public office than those without money. Although rarely spoken in polite company, the thought of virtually every political candidate is: “I want your vote, but what I really need is your money.”

It is admittedly an imperfect system. Politics is messy, and dirty, and historically blemished by stories of tainted cash in burlap sacks and backroom deals. It is because of the pervasive influence of money that the American political system requires public scrutiny and transparency. It is why, in 1907, Teddy Roosevelt called for public financing of political elections and a ban on corporate money in politics. And it is why, for the past forty years, in the aftermath of Watergate, the public has sought and Congress has imposed limits on the amount of money an individual may lawfully contribute to a candidate or party committee.

Campaign finance laws are intended to uphold the principle of political equality, which is fundamental to a fair and open democracy. While people are free to contribute to candidates of their choice, election laws restrict how much money any one person can give. Thus, federal law caps the amount an individual may give directly to a political candidate ($5,200 per two-year election cycle) or to a series of candidates and political party committees combined ($123,200). The purpose of the law is to prevent any one person from having undue influence on the official duties of our elected leaders.

Apparently, the five conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court see it differently. Earlier this month, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision overturned 40 years of law and precedent, ruling that the ($123,200) limits on the aggregate amount an individual can give to a series of political candidates or party committees is unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that a campaign donation is the equivalent of political speech protected by the First Amendment; and that the will of the people as reflected in campaign finance laws and other collective concepts of the public good are outweighed by an individual’s right to engage in this financial form of political “speech.” Since money is the equivalent of speech, according to Roberts, contributing money to a political campaign is no different than writing an op-ed on behalf of your favorite candidate or putting up a lawn sign.

Moreover, said the Court, the only interest the government has in restricting such financial “speech” is in preventing quid pro quo corruption. And, according to Roberts, “Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials of political parties.” Really?

It seems that, to Roberts at least, so long as the robber barons are not showing up in the halls of Congress with briefcases full of money and explicitly demanding that Senators and House members vote a certain way on pending legislation, there is by definition no corruption, or even the appearance of corruption, in the political sphere. It is a disingenuously narrow and naïve view of corruption. Bribery laws, which already prohibit the quid pro quo corruption to which Roberts refers, address only the most blatant attempts to influence political action. But as Congress and many state legislatures have recognized for decades, the public’s concern with political corruption is far more comprehensive and realistic than the Court’s restrictive parameters.

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in a compelling and well-articulated dissent, the Roberts opinion “misconstrues the nature of the competing constitutional interests at stake” and “understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institutions.” Along with the 2010 decision in Citizens United – which held that corporations and unions may contribute unlimited amounts to political campaigns (Hey, it’s only fair. Corporations are people too. They have rights!) – the Roberts Court has eviscerated decades of campaign finance law and efforts to instill integrity into the political process. As noted by Justice Breyer, these decisions have left us with a system “incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that [campaign finance] laws were intended to resolve.”

The history of campaign finance reform in this country has been an uphill effort to maintain the integrity of the political process. Clean government, public transparency, preventing undue influence by wealthy corporations and billionaires lies at the heart of the First Amendment itself. The First Amendment protects not only the right of the individual to engage in political speech – to advocate a cause, write an editorial, protest a perceived injustice, petition the government for a redress of grievances – but also the public’s right to preserve the democratic order. “Where enough money calls the tune,” wrote Justice Breyer, “the general public will not be heard.” And when a few large donations are allowed to drown out the voices of the many – when “elected officials are influenced to act contrary to their obligations of office by the prospect of . . . infusions of money into their campaigns” – the political process is subverted.

Too much money in politics creates cynicism, and a cynical public soon loses interest in political participation. Unlimited money corrupts democracy, allowing a small group of political plutocrats to influence who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed. But according to Chief Justice Roberts, political money is no different than speech. To Roberts, everyone has the same right to contribute as everyone else. That the rich can exercise this right and the poor cannot, is simply the way of the world.

The problem with equating money with speech is that, unlike casting a vote and advocating a cause, activities for which everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, those with money have unequal and privileged access to the halls of power. Everyone has an equal vote to bargain with in the political arena. Only the very wealthy have the financial bargaining power to influence political results. It is an unequal playing field. If unlimited money does not directly corrupt the process, it nevertheless distorts it.

In McConnell v. FEC, a case decided in 2003 whose continued validity is now in doubt after McCutcheon and Citizens United, the Rehnquist Court (not exactly a  bastion of liberalism) upheld the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the “McCain-Feingold law”), which set limits on “soft money” contributions to political parties. Based on an extensive record developed in the trial court, the Supreme Court in McConnell found that the soft money limits were designed to prevent the pernicious influence of money in politics and the privileged access to elected officials that such money provides. The record in that case showed that the enormous soft money contributions at stake, which ranged from $1 million to $5 million among the largest donors, while not resulting in quid pro quo corruption, allowed wealthy contributors disproportionate access to lawmakers and, thus, the ability to influence legislation.

The record developed in McConnell showed an indisputable link between generous political donations and direct access to members of Congress. As former Senator Paul Simon (D – IL) testified: “Because few people can afford to give over $20,000 or $25,000 to a party committee, those people who can will receive substantially better access to elected federal leaders than people who can only afford smaller contributions or cannot afford to make any contributions. When you increase the amount that people are allowed to give, or let people give without limit to the parties, you increase the danger of unfair access.” Similarly, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) noted: “At a minimum, large soft money donations purchase an opportunity for the donors to make their case to elected officials . . . in a way average citizens cannot.”

Americans tolerate a large degree of inequality in the economic sphere because we believe it enhances productivity, entrepreneurial ingenuity, and investment. In theory at least, our economic system rewards those who work harder and produce more things of value, and gives everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. This often is untrue in practice, of course, as luck and inheritance and disproportionate opportunities for some skew the system. But while Americans tolerate a great deal of economic inequality, in the political sphere a more level playing field is expected.

The wealthy do not generally give to candidates out of an altruistic desire to participate in the political process. They do so because they expect a return on their investment. It is a problem that infects both major political parties. As shown by a landmark study conducted in 2012 by Princeton University political scientist Martin Gilens (Affluence and Influence (Princeton University Press, 2014)), government responsiveness strongly favors the most affluent, while average Americans have almost no influence on policy.

But none of this apparently matters to Chief Justice Roberts. So long as no outright bribery can be proven, wealthy contributors are permitted to participate disproportionately in the political process, not only with their voices and pens, but with their money. Money is speech, after all.

Perhaps the Chief Justice and his four conservative brethren on the Supreme Court should listen to one of their fellow Republicans who served with distinction for many years in the United States Senate. As former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) testified during the McConnell case, “Who, after all, can seriously contend that a $100,000 donation does not alter the way one thinks about – and quite possibly votes on – an issue? . . . When you don’t pay the piper that finances your campaigns, you will never get any more money from that piper. Since money is the mother’s milk of politics, you never want to be in that situation.”

When Chief Justice Roberts was named to the Supreme Court in 2005, he promised to uphold the principles of judicial restraint and respect for the democratic process. But the campaign finance rulings of the Roberts Court are examples of judicial activism at its worst. McCutcheon and Citizens United have determinedly obliterated past judicial rulings and decades of campaign finance laws passed by bipartisan coalitions of Congress under Republican and Democratic administrations. Unlike Roberts and his conservative brethren on the Court, these politicians understand precisely how money in politics actually works, and just how unfair and inherently corrupt is a political system that equates unlimited money with mere speech. 

"Money talks and bullshit walks," declared former Pennsylvania Representative Michael Myers during the Abscam scandal in 1979 when he was videotaped accepting $50,000 from an undercover FBI agent. It is a sentiment now endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Teddy Roosevelt is rolling in his grave.


  1. Mark,

    What is it with liberals and freedom? Does freedom give you guys an itch you can’t scratch? I’ve pulled a neck muscle from all my head shaking so I’m going to settle for just a few thoughts (famous last words, huh?) and move on.

    The right to vote is more sacrosanct than the others? I’d say ALL our our rights—including that scary one!—overlap. Interesting, though, that you think so considering your past silence regarding the Attorney General dropping an already won case against those who would actually deny Americans that sacrosanct right.

    “Constitutional democracy”? We are a republic (or we’re supposed to be). Our founders were not fond of democracies and the word does not appear in our two founding documents. This, however, does: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…” Now I know what you meant of course, but words mean things! And “republican” does not mean “Republican” so rest easy.

    Your vote is equally important to anyone else’s. I wish the Dems believed that when it came to counting the votes of our military. It would also be nice if they understood that the right to vote does not extend into the grave. This threat, voter fraud, primarily practiced by the Democratic Party, is a much greater threat—along with voter intimidation and the freedom to engage in it if you’re on the right (meaning left) side politically—than too much money.

    Money does not reign supreme. Both sides spend millions and often the side that spends less wins. One side spending more money does not strip the individual voter of his intelligence. The Democratic Party has spent millions of dollars over the years and have had the media in their back pocket for millions more in free exposure, yet millions of Americans are still smart enough not to fall for their empty rhetoric.

    Yes it costs a lot of money to run for office. Duh. To win, you must get more votes than the other guy, plus even more if you’re a Republican to make up for the vote fraud. And to that end you need to reach a lot of people and that takes money, especially if you’re a Republican and don’t rate puff pieces by the lapdog media. So a politician wants $10.00 from the poor person, $100 from the guy in the middle and as much as possible from the filthy rich. In liberal land the poor and middle guy maintains his right to do with his money as he wishes, but the filthy rich guy loses his right.

    It is, in fact, a perfect system because money is one yardstick of public opinion. Millions of Americans giving $5 or $10 to a candidate makes more of a statement than the contributions of an Oprah or a Soros. In fact, the $5 to $50 crowd makes up the Tea Party and they’ve been very effective politically, haven't they?

    I’m only in the third paragraph and my neck hurts so I’ll end with these observations: Once again you advocate for less freedom and more government control. When was the last time liberals advanced and celebrated freedom? I mean since the flag burning and baby killing era? I would, on the other hand, defend the right of the evil George Soros to donate as much of his money to the socialist of his choice with as much passion as I would in defending the same right of the patriotic Koch brothers. As mentioned many times before, I have enough confidence in Americans to believe that no matter how many liberal lies are spread that they will eventually see through them and understand that Republicans don’t want to wage a war against their own hot wives and cute daughters by drowning them in dirty water and choking them with dirty air just before they push their own grandma off the cliff. Maybe you do, too? Maybe that’s why liberals love more and more laws and regulations that restrict and control more and more free men and women. Because you know control is the only way liberal ideas can survive.

  2. I also find it odd that you have been silent for years while Americans’ sacrosanct voting right has been under daily attack by mostly (being generous here) Democratic forces. This essay had more to do with attacking the “conservatives” on the Supreme Court than it did with the threat to our vote. And weird that you attack Roberts who has given liberals and the government in general the greatest power over the people any republic has ever seen in his tortured passing of ObamaCare. One would think there’d be a shrine to him in every libs’ home.

    It’s also odd that you talk disparagingly of “backroom deals” while approving of the way ObamaCare was passed, using just such backroom deals. Now of course there is transparency in political donations that are done legally, in that they are posted on the Internet (it took me 15 seconds to find some of your political donations online).

    Regarding “corporate money,” I see no difference in individual donations or those made by an American corporation. When a man running for president says that he will actively seek the bankruptcy of American companies through onerous regulations (“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted”) then I would expect that those companies would donate every penny they can to a candidate who promises the opposite.

    You speak of undue influence on our elected officials as if those in office can’t help but be corrupted. I, on the other hand, assume politicians won’t be corrupted by money, but if they are, that’s what prisons are for. To make laws based on the assumption that people are incapable of being honorable strikes me as being as stupid as banning interns in the White House because the president can’t possibly be expected to keep his penis in his pants. And, of course, it begs the question, how do they know the dollar amount at which most politicians uncontrollably become corrupted? I prefer Ronald Reagan’s principled approach to this problem: he believed that anyone who contributed to his campaign did so because they agreed with his policies and philosophy. No room for corruption there.

    Now I find it hilarious that a liberal finds the notion of campaign contributions as free speech to be “disingenuously narrow and naïve.” Liberals find free speech in flag burning, pornography, and pole dancing, but not in an American spending his own money to help advance a political philosophy he agrees with!

    I promised to be brief so I’ll really end with this observation: It’s easy to understand why you feel the way you do about this issue when I think about your political heroes. With few exceptions they are a collection of morally rudderless men who embrace corruption as the prerogative of the political elite. Campaign laws, or any laws for that matter, won’t prevent their corruption.

    Oh hell, who am I kidding with this “I’ll be brief” crap? There’s just so much here to work with. I absolutely love this sentence: “…Chief Justice John Roberts declared that a campaign donation is the equivalent of political speech protected by the First Amendment; and that the will of the people as reflected in campaign finance laws and other collective concepts of the public good are outweighed by an individual’s right to engage in this financial form of political ‘speech.’” In other words, what the Chief Justice said is that an individual’s God-given right trumps the “collective will of the people.” YES! EXACTLY! Welcome to America, Mark! You nailed the miracle of this country and the earth shattering philosophy that is the basis of our unique form of government and you just don’t like it.

  3. Now I don’t have a problem with your destain for God-given rights, be it the right to arm yourself, or the right to own property, or now, the right to express yourself, but what I do have a problem with is your sly dishonesty in framing the issue to suit your agenda. I hadn’t a clue what this case was about until I read your post, so I should be able to expect a proper explanation of the case followed by your rebuttal. What I deduced was the following:

    That there is a magical money amount that, when reached, corrupts any man.

    That to prevent that corruption the law must place a limit on how much money a free American can give to another free American, if that American is running for office. Or as you put it: “…the public has sought and Congress has imposed limits on the amount of money an individual may lawfully contribute to a candidate or party committee.”

    That “(w)hile people are free to contribute to candidates of their choice, election laws restrict how much money any one person can give.” (like the good lawyer that you are, you do slip in a C.Y.A. clause that no one reading would comprehend initially because it contradicts the previous sentence: “…federal law caps the amount an individual may give directly to a political candidate ($5,200 per two-year election cycle) or to a series of candidates and political party committees combined ($123,200)”)

    That “…when a few large donations are allowed to drown out the voices of the many…the political process is subverted.”

    That “(o)nly the very wealthy have the financial bargaining power to influence political results.”

    That a $100,000 donation “will alter the way one thinks about – and quite possibly votes on – an issue.”

    Now everything that I’ve written so far was based simply on your logic, with which I disagreed, and your description of the court decision, which inferred that the court threw out all limits on political donations. Imagine, then, my annoyance when I pulled up a description of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and found this easy to understand summary:

    “Mr. McCutcheon contributed to 16 different federal candidates during the 2012 elections, complying with the base limits applicable to each (i.e., $2,500 per candidate, per election). He argued that the aggregate biennial limits prevented him from contributing to another 12 federal candidates and to a number of non-candidate political committees, including the Republican National Committee.”

    In other words, the law did not allow a free American to “contribute to candidates of their choice” because it put a cap on the TOTAL contributions a free American can make. While the offensive principle remains, that a free American is not free to do with his money as he pleases, the case is clearly not about the undue influence money has on our political system. McCutcheon was not drowning politicians in cash like your essay implies, he was, instead making modest contributions to many politicians he supported and was annoyed that he could not help even more candidates get their message out to the voters.

    And it turns out that your entire essay is an exercise in hissy-fit throwing because the Supreme Court maintained your beloved government control: “While the Court’s decision removes the overall cap on individual contributions, it does not affect the Act’s base limits on individual contributions to federal candidate campaigns, PACs or party committees. Currently, individuals may contribute up to $2,600 per election to a federal candidate, $10,000 per calendar year to a state party committee, $32,400 per calendar year to a national party committee and $5,000 per calendar year to a PAC.” In other words, the court simply said that the government can still limit how much money an American can give to any one politician, it just can’t limit the number of politicians that can be donated to. Does this common sense decision really merit your wrath?

  4. And has it ever occurred to you that these campaign laws are written by politicians already in office and interested in staying in office and that these laws help them and hamper challengers?

    And of course at the heart of your argument is the belief that you and other liberal “educated elite”-types have a crystal ball ability to know the dollar amount at which corruption begins, mixed in with the usual class-welfare argument. As stated, it took me seconds with our transparency laws (I’m in agreement that all donations should be transparent) to find some of your donations and I can tell you that the average American can not make such generous donations to their favorite candidates. You, therefore, by your own logic, have an unequal access to the “halls of power.”

    I end where I began by asking why you seldom, if ever, express a desire for less government intrusion and more individual freedom? But I’d settle for consistency: If money corrupts the political process, why not advocate the elimination of all donations? Barring that, how about an answer to a question? Why is it not a threat to the republic if an American gives $2,500 to 16 candidates, but it is a threat if he contributes $2,500 to 17 candidates?

    See this is where principles come in handy because I don’t have to do math or hope that my crystal ball is working.

    Rich R.

  5. Rich,

    What is it with conservatives and democracy? It really does not matter where the limits, if any, should be drawn on campaign contributions – I would prefer a system of public-financing of political campaigns, similar to what Teddy Roosevelt proposed 107 years ago – but that is irrelevant. The elected representatives of the people, with overwhelming support from the people, should be allowed to determine where the lines are drawn and prevent the corrupting influence of money in politics.

    You love to throw around words like “freedom” and “God-given rights” and suggest that any attempt to impose rules and regulations is an attack on these things. But for you and many right-wing conservatives, concerns about freedom almost always boil down to property rights. You love freedom for people who have a lot of money, own property, and own guns (actually just another form of property ownership). Property ownership reigns supreme in your view of the world. Personal liberties, such as a woman’s reproductive choices and accessibility to birth control, the right of people to keep the government out of their bedrooms, the right of persons to marry whomever they choose, the right of people to receive basic levels of food, shelter and healthcare – these are not the liberties you wish to protect. But don’t dare mess with our God-given right to corrupt the political process, pollute the air and water, exploit our workers, and own an arsenal of weapons.

    You claim the overriding principle is that God-given rights and freedoms trump everything else. But who decides what rights and freedoms are God-given (and don’t say God unless you can prove what she has actually said without the aid of books authored by human beings)? How about the four freedoms pronounced by FDR in 1941 -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear – are these God-given or, as I would contend, fundamental to a free society and a good society? Is the freedom from want not a God-given right? I suspect that you would say no. But why do you alone get to say? Which view is God’s view? I am firmly convinced that, if God exists, God is far more comfortable with my view than yours. But I am equally as certain that you firmly believe just the opposite. All of which, of course, makes my point.

    Are speed limits a violation of one’s God-given rights? If one were to accept such a notion, one could make the following argument: It is my God-given right to drive my lawfully purchased automobile as fast as I want. After all, I paid for the car with my own hard-earned money, and the Constitution under the privileges and immunities clause protects the freedom of movement. Is not the speed limit another example of the oppressive forces of government at work, restricting my God-given right of movement? What right does the government have, in the interest of public safety, to take away my freedom of movement, my constitutional right to interstate travel? Does it not further violate my God-given rights when the tyrannical government has the audacity to force me to pay taxes on my gasoline purchases and, God forbid, to pay tolls on certain roads? How about when the government requires that cars achieve certain fuel efficiency and environmental standards, and catalytic converters, and further requires air quality testing during the annual inspection? What right does the government have to force us to breathe clean air, after all? The list of governmental oppression goes on and on. Oh, dear me, I am so oppressed.


  6. (cont'd):

    Now, if the Supreme Court all of a sudden comes along and rules that speed limits are unconstitutional because they violate the right of interstate travel, many conservatives would celebrate the decision and commend the conservative-elite of the Supreme Court, men well-versed in God-given rights and natural law who have once again demonstrated that they know better than the lowly people and their elected representatives. It would not matter to these conservatives that, for 230+ years, the Constitution was never so interpreted. The idea that speed limits and fuel taxes are unconstitutional may seem silly to most reasonable people, and yet, I see little difference between such a scenario and what the Court has done in its campaign finance rulings.

    You disagree, of course, but I guess it is because you believe these five justices are not “morally rudderless” men, as apparently all of my political heroes are. By the way, which of my political heroes are morally rudderless? Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to advancing the cause of human rights and peace and was among the most publicly moral men of our times? Hubert Humphrey, who was among the most staunch defenders of civil rights in American political history and helped the liberal wing of his party defeat the conservative segregationists in the South? George McGovern, the WWII hero and son of a Methodist minister who devoted his life to peace and helping the poor? Nelson Mandela, who ended apartheid in South Africa? Bayard Rustin, who was nearly beaten to death on several occasions fighting for integration and racial harmony? I suspect, in your mind, Rustin was morally rudderless, since he was gay and lived a “perverted” and “sinful” lifestyle. So, if it is private morality you are concerned with (I know, I know, Kennedy and Clinton), how about Barack Obama – a model of fatherhood and family life in the White House? How does he compare to one of your boys, Newt “Family Values” Gingrich?

    But, I digress. I understand you are confused about Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion, for it appears that the individual limits still stand and, according to him, the Court did not explicitly overrule any past decisions. But the four dissenting justices laid out precisely how McCutcheon overruled past precedent and, in concert with Citizens United, it is only a matter of time before the individual limits are overturned as well (McCutcheon did not touch the individual limits, because they were not specifically challenged in the case).

    Forty years ago, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Court considered the constitutionality of laws that imposed limits upon the overall amount a single person can contribute to all federal candidates, political parties, and committees taken together. The overall ceiling was set at $25,000 under the Federal Election Campaign Act. The Roberts Court in McCutcheon reviewed the amendments to that Act, which raised the limits. Although the Court in Buckley ruled that the $25,000 aggregate limits were constitutional, the Court in McCutcheon ruled that the $123,200 limits were unconstitutional. So, you do the math. A pretty good case could be made, then, as the dissent and virtually every constitutional scholar worth his or her salt have done, that McCutcheon overruled Buckley. And yet, if you read Roberts’ opinion, you would think nothing has changed. It is intellectual dishonesty at its worst, and very consistent with Roberts’ opinions on many other cases – he is a results-oriented judge, nothing more.

    You mention his opinion in the ACA case – it was a terrible decision that conservatives should love, for he obliterated the entire constitutional history of the Commerce Clause and placed in doubt the constitutional validity of countless federal statutes that heretofore had never been successfully challenged. His stupid “The ACA is a tax and thus constitutional” ruling, almost everyone agrees, was simply a way to save face and to prevent the Court from being perceived as the most activist, political, and results-oriented court in history.

  7. (cont'd):

    A closer look at the McCutcheon ruling provides even more evidence of how arbitrary and disingenuous were the conservative members of the Court in these “free speech” rulings. Roberts ruled that the campaign spending limits are only permissible to prevent quid quo pro corruption, which it defined as “a direct exchange of an official act for money” (i.e., bribery). Roberts specifically excluded from this narrow definition of corruption any efforts to “garner influence over or access to elected officials or political parties.” He cited Citizens United as support for this proposition. This is important, because Citizens United was the first case ever to so narrowly construe the notion of corruption, rendering invalid what all prior cases had always ruled were permissible bases upon which Congress could regulate money in politics. In Citizens United, the Court pulled out of thin air the notion that the only important governmental interest at stake was in preventing “quid pro quo corruption” and that quid quo pro corruption does not include “influence over or access to elected officials.” None of these statements, which form the heart of the McCutcheon and Citizens United rulings, are based on precedent or the text of the Constitution. But once that language was interjected into Citizens United, it gave Roberts the opening he needed to make it appear as if he were merely following precedent.

    Finally, I hate to burst your bubble because I am sure it makes you feel all comfy by the fire to think that the $5 to $50 crowd makes up the Tea Party, but in reality, it is well documented that most of the seed money for the major Tea Party organizations came from the Koch brothers, who single-handedly bankrolled Americans for Prosperity, which helped establish and fund the Tea Party since the movement’s inception. The Tea Party group Freedom Works also received $12 million from the Koch family foundations. If most of the Tea Party supporters actually knew this and examined what the Koch brothers stand for, they would understand their interests are really not at all aligned. But that is the problem with money in politics. But, hey, at least we are free to corrupt the political process all we want. Thank God for freedom.


  8. Mark,

    The limit on campaign contributions is simple: None, with full disclosure of who is donating to whom. As stated before, that is all the information Americans need to make an intelligent decision on who to trust and who to suspect is being corrupted. Regarding the “overwhelming support from the people,” why do you only play that card when it supports your position and why do you not then change your opinion when the polls go against you?

    Property rights are one of the cornerstones of a free and prosperous country, but we’ve been down this road before. What evidence do you have that I am against a woman’s reproductive choices? As long as a tramp like Fluke is not reaching into my pocket to finance her sex life, I care not at all what she does in the bedroom. It is only after a woman’s reproductive choice results in the creation of a separate human being, you call it a human life, who is being murdered, that I have an issue (and the polls agree with me!). I also don’t care what goes on in any bedroom but mine and if two men or a man and a toaster can find a church that will marry them, then have at it, just don’t demand my approval. (By the way, DOMA was the law of the land, passed with veto-proof majorities of our “elected representatives of the people and with overwhelming support from the people,” and signed off by Clinton, but you didn’t much respect that law, did you? And I don’t recall any outrage when Obama decided not to enforce this law.)

    Now I’ve tried desperately to educate you on what a “right” is, even supplying a simple test that if the “right” imposes a duty on someone else, it is not a right, God-given or otherwise, but you and the president can’t seem to grasp it, even with two law degrees, so what else can I do?

    Regarding FDR’s less than original thought (more on him later), the right of speech does not impose a duty on me to listen or to provide a soapbox, so it is a valid right, and the right to worship does not impose a duty on me to build a church, so it is also a valid right. But freedom from want imposes a duty on me to take care of the needy and lazy alike, so it’s not a right, and freedom from fear… Please tell me how even a tyrannical liberal with unlimited power to take from the producers could achieve that? Silly and you know it.

    Why do I alone get to say what a right is? I don’t, anymore than you should be able to impose your liberal ideas of liberty on me. So what point are you making? One look at the 50 states and we can tell which philosophy works to the betterment of all. And what to make of your belief that IF God exists he would be more comfortable with your view of government? Jesus, your Lord and Savior and mine, was very familiar with an all powerful government; a government that believed it knew what was best. And Roman Empire is a real and all too possible destination following your philosophy, while it is an impossibility with mine.

What to do with your speed limit scenario? Simply point out that it fails from the start because there is no “right” to a car? Because if there were, it would impose a… Go ahead, you know the answer. It’s also filled with straw man arguments, such as speed limits restrict your God-given right of movement. How so? You can walk anywhere you want except to the World War II Memorial when the president decides to punish members of the greatest generation. Another straw man argument: taxes. Show me where anyone, myself or the Tea Party, has denied the right of the government to levy taxes (although I do believe it’s insanity that the government makes more off a gallon of gasoline than the companies that actually do the work to provide it). The rest is equally silly but I won’t waste more time on it, except to say that cars become more dangerous as the companies are forced to make them lighter to achieve arbitrary pollution standards.

  9. Now the fun part: “Morally rudderless.”

    1. Bill Clinton: Self explanatory (at least I hope so!).
    2. Teddy Kennedy: Ditto (at least I hope so!).
    3. Ted Sorensen: Accessory after the fact.
    4. Barack Obama: Familiar story: Left people to die and then tried to spin his failure or inactivity in a way to save his political ass. Bothered yet?
    5. Hubert Humphrey: Moral coward who failed to take a stand while a racist president sent brave men to die in a “unjust, immoral war” just because he didn’t want to be the first president to lose a war.
    6. OWS: Spoiled losers too dumb to know why they can’t get a job with a degree in “womyn’s studies” but considerate enough that when they trespass on private land they put aside a small area designated as a “rape-free zone.”
    7. Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf: Hamas loving, Iran supporting, American blaming, Sharia law advocate…
    8. Eric Holder: Pardons for fugitives and unrepentant terrorists and obstructor of truth.
    9. FDR: A man who spent so much money imprisoning innocent Americans that he could not afford to drop a bomb or two to save Jews from the gas chamber.
    10. Ralph Nader: As I say, not as I do!
    11. Pete Rose: Narcissistic liar and criminal.


    1. Bayard Rustin: Considering that I commented on this post, it is the height of slander to infer what’s in my head, not that you ever refrain from it, so I demand you back it up!
    2. Pope Francis: Good guy.

    3. George McGovern: Good guy.
    4. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: Take your word for it.
    5. Neil Diamond: Well duh!
    6. Arthur Hertzberg: Take your word for it.
    7. Sargent Shriver: Good guy.
    8. Martin Luther King: Good guy, although what to make of “most publicly moral” man? He was not a saint and it’s easy to be “publicly moral” when people are watching! Even Clinton didn’t whip it out in public.
    9. John Steinbruck: Take your word for it.
    10. Norman Borlaug: Good guy.
    11. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Love this guy!

    (Nelson Mandela: Tough one considering his affiliation with a terrorist organization that practiced the grotesque form of killing known as “necklacing.” I will reserve judgement until the hero worship wears off a bit and the historians have had a chance to inspect that halo a little more closely.)

    So I must apologize for the “with few exceptions.” There were many exceptions.

    Now how do you justify classifying Newt Gingrich as one of my boys? I’m quite sure you’ve mentioned him more than me, if I have mentioned him at all. For the record, Newt is brilliant but I find him a bit of a flake. Wait a second! I know why you brought him up, because you went through the list and he was the closest you could come to typical Democrat behavior. I can just hear your brain whirl: I’ll zing Rich, let’s see… Mitt! No, he’s a boy scout, he wouldn’t cheat. Sarah? Nah. George W. maybe? Hell, he’s madly in love with Laura. Papa Bush? Damn, he’s the one who taught W. decency. Ronnie? Darn, that was the ultimate White House romance. Ford? Dead end again. Nixon! Crap, he’s lucky one woman gave it up, let alone two. How many Republicans, exactly, did you have to go through to get to Newt?

    Regarding the Supreme Court decision, you seem to suggest that once the court makes a decision it should stand; that the court has some papal-like infallibility when judging cases. I think the court is made up of flawed men and women and they sometimes get it wrong. I don’t believe they should refrain from reconsidering an issue just because there is “precedent.” And why this attitude about the Supreme Court and silence with our president who casually ignores or changes laws as he sees fit? There is an inconsistency here that is striking.

  10. There is nothing confusing about the Roberts decision, it comes down on the side of more individual freedom, a concept that terrifies the average liberal statist. And I, like Justice Thomas, hope Buckley is next. Both justices understand the real point of the First Amendment, which was not to protect whatever obscenity turned on a lib at the moment, but to protect “political” speech. As the ruling stated: “…the proper focus is on an individual’s right to engage in political speech, not a collective conception of the public good. The whole point of the First Amendment is to protect individual speech that the majority might prefer to restrict, or that legislators or judges might not view as useful to the democratic process.” The conservative justices understand that the Borg-like love of the “collective” will ultimately lead to a restriction of free speech (speech codes, anyone?) by the government and as is noted, the First Amendment is not meant to protect the government but the “individual.”

    I have a conservative friend who is also a judge and he told me once that the Roberts decision on ObamaCare was brilliant. I dismissed that thought, but now I must reconsider given your opinion. If you think it is terrible then maybe my friend was right. After all, the commerce clause, like the general welfare clause, has been ridiculously interpreted to give the government unlimited power. For now, though, all I can say is from your mouth to God’s ear!

    Now the difference between “quid pro quo corruption” and “influence over or access to elected officials” is that one is provable and the other is up for interpretation. If I give you a bag of money and say vote no against this piece of legislation that increases regulations on my industry, then that is corruption and we should be sharing a cell somewhere. But if I give you a bag of money because you have campaigned against increased regulations that would bankrupt my company and I want your message to reach enough voters to get you elected, then I may be accused by the environmentalists as being a planet hater but there is no crime.

    Now onto the Koch brothers. The point you made with your unsubstantiated charges is irrelevant to what I said, except in the sense that it actually compliments it. I would love to hear what you think they have done that would turn the Tea Party against them, but even if true, my statement needs only a little tweaking: “I would defend the right of the evil George Soros to donate as much of his money to the socialist of his choice with as much passion as I would in defending the same right of the equally evil Koch brothers.” The principle remains the same.

    Rich R.

  11. Rich,

    So, when Vito Corleone sends Luca Braci to Congressman Bob Jones’s office with $100,000 intended for the Friends of Bob Jones PAC, it is only corruption if Luca says, “The Don wants you to keep prostitution illegal. Legalizing prostitution will harm the Don’s business and we need you to make sure that does not happen. Catch my drift, Congressman?” According to Justice Roberts, Congress can regulate such activity, since quid pro quo corruption can be banned despite the First Amendment interests at stake.

    But if Luca merely says, “The Don greatly admires the Congressman’s legislative work and wants to express his appreciation by contributing to his PAC” – this is free speech. And when Luca pays another visit to the Congressman’s office two weeks from now to simply inquire as to how the Honorable gentleman from New York plans to vote on the bill to legalize prostitution, it is simply Mr. Corleone exercising his First Amendment rights. There was no quid pro quo discussed, and no direct connection made to the $100,000 donated to the Congressman’s PAC, so everything is fine. Anyone who thinks there is a problem here simply because Luca and the Don wish to use money to garner “influence over or access to elected officials” must be a wooly-eyed idealist who reads too many books on ethics.

    As The American Prospect asked in response to the research I cited by Martin Gilens of Princeton, “Why, in a democracy – where each citizen in theory has equal voting power, and where votes are the ultimate arbiter of who ascends to political power – would a government comprised of elected officials craft economic policies that cater to the interests of a small minority and foster rather than combat economic inequality?” The answer is simple: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” Access is everything, and money buys access.

    Conservatives in the past never had a problem with placing limits on money in politics. But conservatives now wish to call money the equivalent of “speech.” OK, whatever.

    Did you seriously ask for evidence that you oppose women’s reproductive choices? How about all the baby-killer comments you have made over the years? In case you did not know, the right of a woman to decide whether or not to bear a child is a “reproductive choice.” However, when that choice results in the termination of a pregnancy, I think you have called it, what is the word, oh yes, “murder”? Call me crazy, but I think that indicates your opposition to this aspect of a woman’s “reproductive choice.” And calling Sandra Fluke a “tramp” because she eloquently testified before Congress to advocate for better accessibility to birth control (which is proven to be the single best way to prevent abortions) is sexist and mean-spirited. But for someone who does not know the difference between public morality (i.e., the morality of one’s public policy views) and private morality, what else is new.

    OK, so you acknowledge I do not have a God-given right to a car (I’m fine with that). Thus, you are fine with the government requiring proof that I can handle the car safely and understand the rules of the road before I am granted a license to drive. This is “good regulation.” But I do have a God-given right to a gun? So any form of governmental check on my ability to purchase a gun, or any restrictions on the type of gun I can buy, or the number of guns, or the amount of ammo, or my ability to carry it into a church or a bar is a violation of my God-given rights? And thus “bad regulation”? Is that how this God-given right stuff works? This God of yours is one crazy dude. He certainly must think Jesus is nuts. After all, this Jesus fellow did not always fully embrace the concept of property ownership; he wanted everyone to help the poor (in radical ways); and I really do not think he would have been too wild about guns and ammo. But maybe he was just a rebellious teenager. Anyway, I am glad you have all this worked out.

  12. Mark,

    So my intention was to let you have the final word to avoid the appearance of hijacking your blog, but you asked so many questions that I can’t help but wonder if they were simply rhetorical or if you really wanted answers (and you know I have them!). If you do, I will respond, but I’d like answers to some of my questions first:

    When was the last time liberals advanced and celebrated freedom? When was the last time they passed a law making some people more free without imposing a duty on others?

    How do liberal law makers know the dollar amount at which most politicians uncontrollably become corrupt?

    Why is pornography “free speech” but donating to a political campaign not?

    Does the collective will of the people trump an individual’s rights?

    Is it possible that campaign laws are written by politicians already in office and interested in staying in office and that these laws help them and hamper challengers?

    You are probably in the top one percent of Americans financially and your political donations reflect that. Don’t you then have greater access to the “halls of power” than the vast majority of Americans? Are you not, in fact, one of the piper payers?

    If money corrupts the political process, why not advocate the elimination of all donations?

    Why do you only cite “overwhelming support from the people” when it supports your position and why do you not then change your opinion when the polls go against you?

    DOMA was the law of the land, passed with veto-proof majorities of our “elected representatives of the people and with overwhelming support from the people,” and signed off by Clinton. Are you as outraged by Obama’s failure to enforce this law (and many others) as you are by the Supreme Court’s decision in the campaign finance case? Any hypocrisy here?

    How could a tyrannical liberal with unlimited power to take from the producers achieve FDR’s “freedom from want”?

    Regarding Bayard Rustin and what I think of him, can you back up your mind-reading slander?

    Regarding the Koch brothers, what have they done that would turn the Tea Party against them?

    If your questions really were rhetorical, then please disregard.

    Rich R.

  13. Rich,

    My questions were rhetorical, but I will answer them anyway:

    1. Liberals advance and celebrate freedom every day; it is a central component of liberalism. There is a strong libertarian streak within liberalism – thus, liberals oppose restrictions on almost all private, consensual conduct, which is why liberals support gay rights, the right of people to marry whomever they choose (liberals opposed laws in the South that made it illegal for blacks and whites to marry long before gay marriage became a cause celebre); most liberals support legalization of marijuana (I am conflicted, but generally agree); even prostitution – not because we favor prostitution, but because it is counterproductive and unhealthy to allow a black market to control it. Liberals oppose all forms of discrimination, which only violates the rights of those being discriminated (although you might suggest that laws against discrimination in the workplace impose a duty on employers and business owners not to discriminate against employees and customers). I could go on and on.

    2. The question is a great example of your warped view of “freedom.” You seem to think that freedom means the freedom to do most anything you want, especially if you own property or a business or money. But the freedom to pollute, freedom to discriminate, freedom to refuse to serve customers based on race, freedom to not pay taxes – these are not legitimate freedoms in a democratic society (at least, not in a good one). With freedom comes responsibility.

    3. Stupid question. First, it is not just “liberal” law makers who passed all prior campaign finance reforms – in each case, it was a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans (remember “McCain – Feingold”?). Second, where the lines are drawn is a matter of reasonableness and common sense. The precise numbers are agreed upon by compromise and debate. That only now, 230 years into our democratic experiment, the right of “free speech” somehow involves financial transactions which trumps the will of the people, is wrong, in my view.

    4. At a certain point, pornography is not free speech (e.g., child porn is 100% illegal). But adult pornography, like it or not, can be a form of artistic expression, and it is very difficult to draw proper lines between “pornography” and an edgy movie. We do not want the government deciding what is art and what is trash and then outlawing the latter. Besides, what someone does in the privacy of her home that does not violate anyone else’s rights, is behavior that should be left alone by the government. Ah, there I am again, a liberal celebrating freedom. Damn, I must be slipping.

    5. Sometimes yes, sometimes no – it depends on what right we are talking about. The right of worship? Generally no. You cannot restrict the rights of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or any other legitimately recognized religion to worship as they choose and in the manner they choose. Any law that does so is unconstitutional. But the right to discriminate against customers as a property owner? Yes, that may be trumped by the will of the people. The right of a business owner to pollute our oceans and rivers? Yes, that may be trumped by the will of the people. The right of an individual to buy a sub-machine gun? Yes, that may be restricted by the will of the people (although that has become less clear with this Supreme Court). The right of free speech cannot be trumped by the will of the people (except for reasonable time, place and manner restrictions that are content-neutral). So, what is wrong with McCutcheon and Citizens United? The problem for me is that monetary transactions are not, or should not be deemed, “speech.” It is certainly not the same kind of speech as petitioning the government for a redress of grievances, the writing of this blog, political protests, artistic expression, and all the other forms of speech that all citizens have an equal opportunity to engage in.

  14. 6. Of course that is possible. But that is not a reason to rule such laws unconstitutional. Instead, it is a reason to closely scrutinize the impact of such laws and to advocate improvements and revisions so that the laws are better and fairer. But do we really want one or two super rich people to essentially decide who is to run for office and then help them get elected? And if so, are we surprised when the candidates are completely beholden to the super-rich donors?

    7. This question is not only based on an extremely faulty premise – no, I am not in the 1%, not even close, and no I am not a piper player. It is also inappropriate and offensive – I should not have to discuss my personal financial circumstances (or my personal political donations) on my blog, and you should know better. I make a good salary, all W-2 earnings, and a bump over what I earned as a federal prosecutor but only enough of a bump to be able to pay for most of my daughters’ college tuition bills. I am affluent by most standards, but not even close to rich. It helps that my wife also earns a good government salary, so as long as we stay employed and healthy, we are doing fine. My most generous political contributions (twice to Obama, once to Joe Sestak, and once to Doug Gansler, a friend of mine who is the Maryland Attorney General) are well below (not even close to) the individual limits noted in my essay. Not exactly access material. I do not think President Obama is taking my calls, though I did get to shake his hand (arm extended – nearly pulled a shoulder muscle) at the rope line once. Sheldon Adelson spending $100 million trying to defeat Obama, now that is impressive.

    8. If it were up to me, there would be no more political donations – I advocate public financing of political elections (similar to Teddy Roosevelt in 1907). I would like to see a system that does not depend on individual donations and corporate/PAC money, that allows equal time to the major political parties (or anyone who can muster sufficient support via a petition drive, etc.) and would require people to vote on the best candidate based on their positions, leadership potential, and integrity.

    9. “Overwhelming support from the people” is relevant when what the people support is constitutionally permissible. I do not believe that monetary transactions are “speech” – thus, the fact that the people support campaign finance reform and Congress has acted according to the will of the people, is entirely relevant to the discussion. If I am wrong on the constitutional aspect (which at least as of three weeks ago I apparently am), then the support of the people does not matter. The same is true for gun control. Why does the overwhelming support of the people for, say, expanded background checks on gun purchasers, not matter to you? This is not to say there are not times when I disagree with the majority, but unless it is on constitutional grounds, I do not generally advocate use of the courts to win the argument.

    10. I am glad you mention the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed by “freedom”-lovers that restricted freedom, making it illegal for an entire segment of society to marry. DOMA is a great example of a law that is unconstitutional (as ruled by the Supreme Court). Although normally I would contend that the President or Attorney General should have sought to have the courts declare the law unconstitutional before determining not to enforce it, when a law is clearly unconstitutional (as was DOMA), I have less of a problem with unilateral non-enforcement. It is not all that different from prosecutorial discretion.

  15. 11. The premise of your question is silly and I frankly do not understand the question. But if by “tyrannical liberal” you are referring to FDR, the man who saved freedom from tyranny and liberated Europe from Hitler’s wrath and who was among the greatest presidents since Lincoln, I believe the best way to help people from starving to death and becoming homeless and hungry is to (1) provide jobs and (2) provide aid. Yes, taxes are required – but I think the country has done OK over the years with our system of income taxation. The same taxes, by the way, that I am forced to pay and which pay your salary.

    12. You have specifically called homosexuality “perverted” and sinful as condemned in the Bible (you can look it up). We have had many back-and-forth discussions on this and similar topics in my past posts. You were the one who accused me of supporting “morally rudderless” political heroes. I took the liberty of interpreting “morally rudderless” to mean, in part, sexual ethics (since you seem to always point out the personal flaws of Clinton and Ted and John Kennedy). I pointed out the names of several other public figures that I have written about with some degree of admiration and why I believe they are morally sound – of course, my standard of morality has to do not with one’s personal, private behavior, but with one’s public life, public positions, and public actions. Thus, I believe Ronald Reagan was not an extremely moral leader, not because he was divorced and treated his kids like crap, but because he pursued policies of greed and self-interest. Bayard Rustin was a man of moral character because he was willing to risk his life for a cause greater than himself. What he did with others in his private consensual sexual life is irrelevant.

    13. I certainly cannot speak for the Tea Party, but for many of them – the low-income and middle-class folks you like to point out make up the Tea Party – the Koch brothers’ wealth and financial interests, which are totally reflected in their political work (e.g., promoting fossil fuels, coal, and opposition to climate science) is not, in my opinion, consistent with the economic or social interests of most Tea Party members. But the Kochs are so secretive regarding their financial involvement in the Tea Party and in how their political involvement is designed to advance their own economic interests, it is no surprise the Tea Party does not see a contradiction.

    End of discussion.

  16. Sorry Mark, but the discussion can't end on a lie (words mean things!). Time to put up or apologize for “You have specifically called homosexuality ‘perverted’ and sinful as condemned in the Bible (you can look it up).”

    I did and I can’t find it. I even searched for “pre-vert,” the way a racist, homophobic Southern Democrat might say it, and nothing.

    You have a nasty habit of putting words in my mouth and misreading my mind and it has to stop. Hold me accountable for what I write, not what you interpret my writing to mean.

    Rich R.

  17. Rich - I distinctly remember an email string in which you used the terms noted to describe homosexuality (I believe it may have been related to the Chic-Filet controversy). But since I typically delete most of my old, non-work emails after a period of time, I will make you a deal: State here and now that you do not believe homosexuality is inherently sinful, that Christian interpretations of the Bible that suggest homosexuality is a perversion of God's will are wrong, that God did not create a substantial portion of human beings as gay and lesbian if God did no so intend, and that you accept the right of gays and lesbians to the same rights and privileges of all other citizens, and I will happily apologize for suggesting you have stated otherwise.

  18. Mark,

    You are a piece of work!

    First, are our private emails now up for use when debating on your blog? Because I’ve been restraining myself from using them out of respect for your privacy, but if your okay with it…

    Second, you accuse me of something you can’t prove and then demand (here and now!) that I confirm or deny your accusation? How very Harry Reid of you.

    Shame on you, Mark (and that’s the polite version of what I’m screaming right now-open your window and you might hear me). Can’t you just say, “I’m sorry, Rich. My bad”?

    Rich R.

  19. Very well, Rich, if that's the way you want to play. Sorry, my bad. Now please answer this one last question: Are you willing to publicly state here and now that you do not believe homosexuality is inherently sinful, that Christian interpretations of the Bible that suggest homosexuality is a perversion of God's will are wrong, that God did not create a substantial portion of human beings as gay and lesbian if God did no so intend, and that you accept the right of gays and lesbians to the same rights and privileges of all other citizens?

  20. Mark,

    What does “if that's the way you want to play” mean? I want to play ethically and I have never done what you did (you can look it up). Yet I have to browbeat a half-ass apology out of you. I’d say “man-up” but that is now, apparently, code for being anti-gay. At least according to the liberal speech police.

    Now let’s play your game: Sex outside traditional marriage is sinful and immoral. Why would I state otherwise? I’m a Catholic and my religion teaches that homosexual behavior and every other sexual behavior outside the bonds of traditional marriage is sinful. I expect that you will respect my religious beliefs as much as you respect the beliefs of those who follow other religions, including the “Religion of Peace.” Did God create homosexuals? How the hell do I know? Do you have some special knowledge that has so far escaped the world’s smartest scientists and theologians? Did God create pedophiles and murderers and defense attorneys? Using your logic, God intended for there to be monsters who can only satisfy their lust by raping children. What “rights” are being denied to homosexuals? And let’s remember our lesson on what a “right” is! By the way, do you know you’re being insensitive and hateful in using the word “homosexual”? I know, it’s hard staying current with what is politically correct, but it is the bed you’ve made for yourself.

    Now for the record, I never did use the word “perverted” or talk about the bible condemning homosexuality, something you should keep in mind in the future when you read my mind or claim to understand the Tea Party or conservatives. Once again, you’ve demonstrated that you hear what you want to hear and what you want to hear is only that which confirms your preconceived prejudices. The last thing you are is “passionately curious.” What I said during the Chick-Fil-A discussion was the following: “Most people in this great country separate what you are from what you do.  I believe that if, IF, IF IF IF, being homosexual is what you’re born as, then the same must be true of pedophilia, beastiality, etc.  I can accept you as you are while expecting you to refrain from the immoral behavior (i expect my daughter to refrain from the immoral behavior of pre-marital sex and because of draconian laws that prevent the use of chastity belts I must now simply trust her).  Now, of course the difference is that homosexuality, in general, involves consenting adults, so the response of most people is, do what you want behind the rainbow flag, just don’t do it on my front lawn.  And don’t try to force down my throat the idea that what you do is MORAL.  It is not MORAL any more than any sex outside of TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE is moral.”

    Pretty radical, huh?

    So now you decide, since you violated the confidentiality of our private correspondence, are our emails now fair game? I never write what I don’t mean and would not say in public, so I’m fine with it. I just ask that we follow basic standards of behavior.

    Rich R.

  21. Rich - You compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia and yet you claim I am an unethical liar because I said you once called homosexuals "perverted." I will grant that you apparently did not use the term perverted, but you described behavior that clearly indicates your belief that homosexuality is a form of sexual deviancy. It is an outdated and unscientific notion and is, quite frankly, utterly offensive. I respect your right to your religious beliefs regarding traditional marriage, but I believe to my core that those beliefs as applied to gays and lesbians who love each other and wish to commit to a lifelong committed relationship, but cannot because of Catholic teachings or traditional Christian teachings, are wrong, against God's will, and a violation of Christian principles.

    I could care less if you make reference to emails or comments, but I certainly did not mean to offend your sensibilities. I am frankly surprised you made an issue of it. But I am happy to agree to the guideline that emails be off limits. Not a problem for me either way.

  22. And defense attorneys! I also "compared" it to premarital sex, but once again, you’ve demonstrated that you hear what you want to hear and what you want to hear is only that which confirms your preconceived prejudices. What I also said was live and let live, a classic liberal position before "liberalism" was distorted by liberals.