This just in: Jed Sanborn announced this morning that he is not seeking re-election to the Madison Common Council. A real loss to the city.
Wow! What a stunner! Two deposed Democrats, State Sens. Russ Decker and Jeff Plale, vote down the state worker contracts. Caffeinated Politics cannot recall anything quite so dramatic in the Legislature since George Petak was the deciding vote to build Miller Park in 1996. Properly understood, the Decker and Plale votes were less against the unions (who deserted Plale in his primary) than against Jim Doyle.
Republican Tommy Thompson got along better with Democrats than Jim Doyle did with members of his own party.
Warm up your Philco sets, blog lovers
The Squire of the Stately Manor will make his first appearance before a full session of the Dane County Board since his inglorious defeat in April 2006. This historic event will occur tonight, 7 p.m., Thursday, December 16 (a day that will LIVE ... in infamy). If you can't be there in person, tune in to CitiCable (994 on your Charter subscribers). Sorry, no high-def.
Is Dane County ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille?
Blaska will make this rare public appearance to dissuade these elected officials from enacting Item J-3 on the agenda, Res. 212 "Referendum on regulating campaign contributions."
The gist of it is to revive the dismantled McCain-Feingold campaign finance law after its dismissal by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission.
Yes, the same Dane County Board that would not allow the citizens to weigh in on the $38 million-a-year sales tax for commuter rail now seeks an advisory referendum that will ask:
"Should the United States Constitution be amended to establish that regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting freedom of speech by stating that only human beings, not corporations are entitled to constitutional rights."
This piece of legislative legerdemain is sponsored by Supervisors Downing, Hesselbein, Hendrick, Matano, Rusk, Stoebig, Sargent, Solberg, Salov, McDonell, Duranczyk, Hulsey, Stubbs, Eicher, Corrigan, Levin, Miles and Veldran. Surprised not to see the name of Carousel Bayrd. That would make 19 on a 37-member board.
There is, however, a chance that proponents will delay their request for a referendum thinking that 2012 might be more propitious. The Exec committee must clear the resolution for debate; it meets at 6 p.m.
In any event, their argument remains this:
1. Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and
2. Money is not speech and therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting freedom of speech.
It is before the County Board only because a group called South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend failed to gain enough signatures to place it on the April 3 ballot. Sure enough, the likes of Progressive Dane, the Green Party, Ruckus Society, the Lawyers Guild, Comrade John Nichols, and Michael McCabe are behind it. This group has a web site at movetoamend.org.
An asterisk on the Bill of Rights
I reserve the right to extend and revise, but here's what I plan to say.
The Constitution proper tells what federal government can do. Its companion, the first 10 amendments, known collectively as The Bill of Rights, tells what it cannot do. It was ratified in 1791. It has protected our freedoms for 220 years. Now, the Dane County Board, in Madison Wisconsin, wants to amend the Bill of Rights for the first time in our history!
To the First Amendment, the first and most important of the Bill of Rights, To: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ..." you want to attach an asterisk.
You want to limit free speech. But only that speech with which you disagree. You want to muzzle dissenting voices.
John Nichols of The Capital Times may speak to his heart's content at election time but Jim Pugh of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce must go dark 60 days before an election?
Let's be honest. You want to silence only some corporations, not all of them. You would allow The New York Times corporation to publish up to the minute of an election. John Nichols would be free to use the resources of The Capital Times and Capital Newspaper Corporations to promulgate his company's positions in his signed and unsigned advocacy.
What freedom does one have who does not own a press? Could he rent one? Must he publish daily? How about weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? How about annually -- once a year, say, two weeks before an election?
Could Jim Pugh and WMC rent a press for that purpose and endorse Joe Schmo for political office? Or rent space in an existing publication? Or time on the airwaves and cablecasts?
Money IS speech!
If money is not protected political speech, why did candidate for State Assembly Ben Manski ask for my money? Why did the successful candidate in that race, a co-signatory on this resolution, raise even more money?
Why did Friends of Brett Hulsey raise $21,570 -- according to the Fall pre-election campaign report, including $500 on September 30 from the SEIU Wisconsin State Council PAC and $25 on October 8 from WKOW Television INCORPORATED.
Why did the chairman of this county board hold a fund raiser last night at the home of a lobbyist and another tonight right before this meeting co-sponsored by Sup. Erickson? How much did you raise, Mr. Chairman? Speech costs money.
You say that only people should have free speech. But Justice Scalia wrote in his concurrence:
All the provisions of the Bill of Rights set forth the rights of individual men and women-not, for example, of trees or polar bears. But the individual person's right to speak includes the right to speak in association with other individual persons.
Surely the dissent does not believe that speech by the Republican Party or the Democratic Party can be censored because it is not the speech of "an individual American."
Finally, how stupid you must think the American voter! That they cannot sift and winnow for themselves but need the careful ministrations of good progressives like yourself to regulate, ration, restrict, and redistribute political speech. The 4 R's.
I think James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Ben Franklin and Co. got it right the first time.