Editorial: Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one – for now

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evada senior Sen. Harry Reid — during one of his many full-throated anti-Koch brothers rants — recently told the world he knows better than the Founders just how much free speech the citizens of this country should be allowed. He announced he is backing an amendment to the Constitution that would tear the heart out of the First Amendment and stomp on it.

The amendment put forth by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., would allow Congress and the states to set limits on contributions to candidates and limits on how much of one’s own money could be spent in support of or opposition to a candidate. Of course, such limits favor incumbents.

The amendment expressly states: “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.”

Problem solved. The Koch brothers buy a press — or a television network or a string of radio stations or a website.

But there is a glaring omission in the amendment. It gives both Congress and the states the power to limit campaign spending, but it only prohibits Congress from abridging the freedom of the press. Since such an amendment would take precedent over the 14th Amendment barring states from usurping fundamental rights, presumably a state could abridge the freedom of the press to spend money supporting or opposing a candidate editorially.

Those niggling little problems aside, Reid’s whole argument that there must be equality imposed on speech by limiting the corrupting power of money is bogus. The rich may try to buy votes through advertising and other means, but any such transaction takes a willing seller.

In his prepared text Reid declared: “The Supreme Court has equated money with speech, so the more money you have the more speech you get, and the more influence in our democracy. That is wrong. Every American should have the same ability to influence our political system. One American, one vote. That’s what the Constitution guarantees.”

Might we remind the senator from Nevada that his vote in the Senate carries the same weight as those of the senators from California and New York and other states where far more “Americans” reside. So the Constitution does not guarantee one American, one vote. Each state has two votes in the Senate, no matter its population.

In addition to being a senseless and futile gesture, such an amendment would require a huge bureaucracy to enforce, but, of course, this bureaucracy would be even handed and fair like the IRS and efficient like the VA and responsive like the BLM.

Reid called campaign spending by concerned citizens “one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced.”

No, the greatest threat to our system of government is a massive Leviathan of a bureaucracy that sweeps aside freedoms for self-serving reasons and spends our grandchildren into eternal, crushing debt.

The Koch brothers can spend every dime of their billions arguing for conservative policies, but it will be for naught if there is no one willing to agree.

Corporations can spend millions selling New Coke and Edsels, but there have to be willing buyers.

Freedom of speech needs no ground leveling. The power to persuade is not the exclusive domain of the loudest, otherwise every debate victor would be the one with the biggest bullhorn.

If this democratic Republic is not a farce, the voters will, eventually, figure out the best route to a more prosperous and just future.

We fundamentally and strongly oppose any amendment that would jeopardize our freedoms of speech and press. — TM

Comments

  1. Gene Townsend WPHS Class of '61 says:

    Harry Reid. Nothing more needs to be said.

  2. Wayne Nebeker says:

    Just An American
    I was in the Hilltop canyon again yesterday where the grass tour started and again early today as I live at the mouth of the canyon and drive right up the canyon everyday to work. This is my back door and the grass is very tall with cheat grass near 26″ high, and native grasses 18″ high in many places. This is the best grass year in the past 10 years. The fire danger is going to be scary by the 4th of July and few even realize what Mr Furtado has set us up for. A gallon of diesel fuel has 115,000 BTU and a pound of grass has 7350 BTU’S so to compare a Gallon of Diesel weighs 7 lbs rounded up for good measure and 7 lbs of grass has 51,450 BTU”S That is one hell of a lot of fuel for the range fires that are going to happen because we didn’t control the cheat grass.
    The BLM didn’t have a large enough budget last year in a slow fire season with little fuel. They borrowed from the sage grouse budget, this year they have less money and are looking at a severe fire season, “due to the heavy fuel load”. I call that mismanagement!
    The feral horses are double the allotted number for almost every herd management area. They have no budget to haul water to them this summer and many will thirst to death. They also have no funds to gather the excess horses to bring the numbers in line according to the mandates for numbers in Herd Management Areas. This is just appalling that an agency can be so mismanaged and allowed to continue to exist, as they obstruct productivity and sustainability and promote incompetence. We as Citizen’s need to stand up and demand the removal of the entire BLM as a responsible land management agency and manage it ourselves as many ranchers and miners did before the creation of the BLM.
    Before the BLM we had adequate sage grouse populations, and deer populations. The range was healthy and the horses had a economic value insuring there survival. Yes they were gathered and the usable ones were used for ranch horses and the unusable were sold to slaughter. Today the American taxpayer foots the bill for around 50,000 feral horses at a cost of approx. $4.00 per day per horse. That is about $72.5 Million just to maintain the ones held in feed lots alone. This holding a feral horse that has ran free its entire life on Thousand’s of acres, and abruptly confining it to a feed lot is inhumane in its self.
    At this point it isn’t about Ranchers and Miners, It is about the Hunter, the ATV enthusiast, and the Fisherman. We are all in the same place in time and our freedoms are at stake. Every road closure, every endangered species is just a excuse to create a non use of the public lands, and once they are closed they will never be reopened.
    I am reminded of the sad plight of the American Indian, and all of the broken promises they were given by a corrupt government that had no intentions of bargaining in good faith. Government has no conscience, no brain, no memory, no moral foundation. No ability to care, yet they have been given that responsibility in exchange for our freedom. This is especially true when the restrictions placed upon this monster by the Constitution are ignored. Our fight is in there in Black and White. They can’t own big tracts of land and the purposes of ownership are limited. States rights is the first fight. Then individual rights. Government Cannot manage anything. Their only purpose is to protect the border and protect individuals from force and fraud. Now they are the force, the fraud, and the borders are wide open.
    I find the current situation appalling. We have our elected Senator Harry Reid with no regard to anyone other than himself. He has hand picked the current BLM Director. And with little imagination it is reminiscent of the 1890’s and a corrupt Indian agent, serving the corrupt officials that have empowered him to steal American’s property once again. It is Time you and I stood up and said no more, to federal ownership of land and to the corrupt agencies that answer to corrupt officials who have no regard for the Constitution
    I as many Americans came from a long line of people that crossed oceans and traveled thousand’s of miles to the New World and intermarried with the natives and became a people that stood up for freedom and injustice. Today I find my self a product of all my ancestors, and am proud to call myself AMERICAN Not Irish American, Not Native American, Not Swiss American But Just AMERICAN as my ancestors were proud to call themselves.
    Wayne Nebeker Proud to call My self JUST AN AMERICAN Battle Mtn Nevada

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