Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


"Already donated the limit"

I was listening to the radio yesterday, a show about Super Tuesday. First, a big thank you to all the Democrats who voted as we asked. The Republicans, not so much.

One of the things that struck me about the show was all these super-enthused voters who were engaged in the process. One was involved with “South Sound for Hillary,” [link to no longer works] a local group, not affiliated with the campaign. She’s already donated the limit, and is working locally for a candidate she believes in. It’s great. Except for two things.

The first is the limit, and the second is affiliation with the campaign. If the First Amendment’s limits on the powers of Congress to control speech mean anything, they mean that political speech is sacrosanct. They also mean that the right to free association is sacrosanct. The plain language of the Amendment is “Congress shall make no law restricting…”

Now, this bad law is ‘settled.’ The Supreme Court has demonstrated their mastery of yoga by twisting themselves into knots to allow this. So why do I bring it up?

Because one of the idiots responsible for this state of affairs is running. And not only is he running, he’s the Republican front-runner, John McCain. Co-author of the “McCain-Feingold” campaign finance law. It’s bad law. It represents a fundamental failure to understand the Constitution, a document which McCain has repeatedly sworn to uphold.

I had originally planned for this blog to be much more about the virtues of emergent chaos. Perhaps we’ll go that way. But right now, McCain represents a brake on the most interesting and exciting political season in decades. He’s demonstrated contempt for the guarantees of liberty. For that reason, he deserves not to be President.

11 comments on ""Already donated the limit""

  • yoshi says:

    He’s demonstrated contempt for the guarantees of liberty.

    Hillary Clinton voted ‘Yea’ for the passage of this act. So by using this Act as a measure of ones worthiness for President – she’s out.
    (it also should be noted that the lack of transparency in the current administration was pioneered by Hillary’s husband – reason number 1353 not to vote for her)

  • Chris says:

    I’m not going to get into a battle of inexperts about what the First Amendment means. I will, however, say that since I take the Constitution seriously, if there were a candidate who, say, graduated at the top of his class at a top-tier law school, and taught Constitutional law at another top-tier law school, I’d be inclined to look favorably on his candidacy :^)

  • Andy Steingruebl says:

    For a history of the first amendment and some thoughts on historical context, as well as a harsh criticism of McCain-Feingold, I heartily recommend:
    “Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment” by Floyd Abrams.
    See also the Volokh post about McCain and the trouble he’s going to have nominating judges should be win.

  • Fergie says:

    To truly know about John McCain, you need look no further that this recent Senate vote on the economic “stimulus” package now working it’s way through Congress. While Clinton and Obama had the decency to actually show up and vote on the issue, McCain did not.
    Why? It isn’t clear, but it appears that instead of taking sides on an issue that could hurt him (more money for veterans and senior citizens vs. pissing off his Republican crony friends and alienating the “conservative base”), he chose to simply not vote.
    As a Veteran myself, this sort of character flaw should be evident to everyone.
    A vote for this man mean 4 more years of pain and suffering for the citizens of this country.
    – ferg

  • Adam says:

    Thanks, I wasn’t aware of her vote. I think we can disagree on the origins of the transparency issues of the current administration.

  • rob sama says:

    HERE HERE!!!

  • Dissent says:

    It’s true that McCain didn’t show up for the vote on Wednesday, Fergie. But he did show up and voted ‘yes’ on the bill yesterday (when the bill passed), whereas neither Clinton nor Obama voted yesterday. Their votes wouldn’t have made a difference, but why weren’t they there on such an important issue? And neither Clinton nor Obama have taken sufficiently strong stands on retroactive immunity for telecoms — in fact, they weren’t even in the Senate when Chris Dodd took time off from campaigning to get back to the Senate to provide leadership. Dodd and Feingold continue to provide leadership while the would-be leaders are absent or silent.
    But if we want to use the McCain-Feingold bill as a litmus test, I will point out that Ron Paul voted “No” on it. So does that mean Adam is going to vote for Paul? 🙂
    I still haven’t decided who I’d vote for. I wonder if we can draft Jon Stewart. Think of the potential chaos!

  • Chris says:

    I heartily recommend “Know Your System Administrator (a field guide)”, by Stephan Zielinski (
    I first found this gem on USENET and was in stitches not only regarding its accuracy on technical matters, but regarding politics. (While I did not vote for Zappa in 1992, I did write him for a local office in 1990 I think.)

  • BCM says:

    I personally am a little skeptical of someone who seems to write military commitments like checks becoming president. 100 years in Iraq? Imagine that for a second. Say a kid is born today, his child could potentially serve in Iraq. That’s totally ridiculous.

  • PHB says:

    You sure do pick the strangest issues to make non-negotiable.
    Campaign finance limits were introduced to reduce the effect of bribes on the politicians. It didn’t work as well as people hoped but it reduced some of the abuses.
    Rather more important in my view is whether the next President is going to take his foreign policy advice from a bunch of ex-trotskyites who have changed their colours but not their approach to politics. To understand the neo-cons (and for that matter McCarthyism) you have to understand that the major players were all ex-Trotskyites.
    Communism is dead, but anti-communism is not. And who is more experienced or committed to attacking communists than a communist? Irving Kristol and his fellow Trotskyites gave up on communism but still had scores to settle, so they signed up with McCarthy and Hoover.
    It isn’t an accident that the NeoCon right has adopted Stalinist objectives and Trotskyite methods, or that the result of their first grasp of power was a Stalinist style purge complete with show trials.
    And now McCain is the latest rube that their sons, and protogees have conned (neo-conned).

  • Iang says:

    Disclosure: I am not a citizen!
    What I find curious about the US elections is the bipolarity, which appears much more intense than in other countries. Outside the US, people talk about the swinging voter, which is a euphemism for thinkers. But in the US, it seems that issues and personalities are rarely debated outside the assumption that “my tribe must win” … and therefore any argumentative tactic is reasonable.
    Limitations on using money (better seen as bribes) to capture the electoral process seem quite reasonable, but clearly are not adequate as a solution in the US. In other countries, campaign funding breaches are major scandals, and generally result in heads and sometimes governments falling. But in the US, it is just so much noise, competing against all the other noise. E.g., I’m told the biggest ever funding scandal is apparently before the courts now, but is almost unknown in the US.

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