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Author Topic: Boycott Lowe's
Rakeesh
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Sure, I can as well. Heck, I can tell if it's Coke, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, or generic versions of `em. It's just how I grew up-my Dad, when I was a kid, actually dipped bagels in Diet Coke in the morning sometimes, that's how much he drank and liked the stuff.

I'm not as much of a fanatic as him, and have switched almost entirely to water as the drink of choice over the past couple of years, but I've got an *ahem* refined palette when it comes to discerning retail cola tastes.

That said, though, I was always perfectly happy with Diet Pepsi if we didn't have Diet Coke (it depended on what was on sale), and the generic versions were very little different either. Of course tastes are subjective, and everyone will experience a food or drink at least a little (or even a very lot) differently, but would either of you say that Coke is substantially different than Pepsi? To the extent that their retail rivalry would imply? And would you say Coke or Pepsi are two or three or even four times better than the generic versions?

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Dan_Frank
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Heh, Rakeesh, my mom was the same way about Diet Coke. I can taste a difference, but it is absolutely irrelevant to me.
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Blayne Bradley
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Coke and Pepsi fundamentally taste the same to me.
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Samprimary
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I will be able to tell you every time whether I'm drinking coke, pepsi, or RC cola. Even though I haven't had RC cola in a long time.

Once upon a time I could tell when I was drinking mountain dew that had been bottled in WV. It was .. weaker, more pallid.

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BlackBlade
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I can tell the difference between canned, tap, and bottled Dr. Pepper. I've never tried to differentiate Cokes or Pepsi.
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scholarette
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I will only drink Coke. I don't like off brand, pepsi, RC Cola, etc. I prefer cold cans poured into a glass with no ice. I think I can tell the difference between cane sugar and corn syrup, but the cane I have had is always from the fountain and fountain is less reliable in taste consistency.
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Dan_Frank
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I just have to say it's fantastic that Rakeesh's analogy led to this incredible derail. I love this place. [Smile]

It occurs to me that the reason the difference is irrelevant to me is I'm not terribly fond of any cola. If I'm being offered a canned soda, I'll probably reach for a root beer (only real preference there is not Barq's) or a ginger ale (no preference re: the can options).

Come to think of it, though, I'm more of a water or juice guy. The only sodas I really buy these days are the ones that really market themselves as being different than the typical brands. Things like Reed's Ginger Beer, or Steelhead Root Beer. They're the Ron Pauls of the soda world!

Except, you know. They're not freaking crazy.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Come to think of it, though, I'm more of a water or juice guy. The only sodas I really buy these days are the ones that really market themselves as being different than the typical brands. Things like Reed's Ginger Beer, or Steelhead Root Beer. They're the Ron Pauls of the soda world!

Magic words! [Wink]
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Juxtapose
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Fountain = Coke.
Can = Pepsi.

Mexican when possible.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Come to think of it, though, I'm more of a water or juice guy. The only sodas I really buy these days are the ones that really market themselves as being different than the typical brands. Things like Reed's Ginger Beer, or Steelhead Root Beer. They're the Ron Pauls of the soda world!

Magic words! [Wink]
I'm guessing your winky face is trying to imply you "caught" me or something. Dude, for the last time, I'm not saying marketing has zero effect, okay? Sheesh. [Razz]

All I've said is buying advertising is not the same thing as buying supporters/customers/voters. Terrible products fail, even with good advertising. Amazing products often succeed with no advertising at all.

And unique products are especially good at distinguishing themselves without much advertising. How many commercials have you seen for a Roomba? I don't watch TV much these days, but I did years ago, right around the time the Roomba made its debut, and I don't remember seeing many ads. It didn't need them, because people wanted to talk about it!

Besides, anyone who thinks that Steelhead's superiority is due to it's marketing campaign (What marketing campaign? I've never actually seen it advertised. Anywhere. Ever.) has obviously never drank a bottle of Steelhead. Just sayin'.

Edit: I re-read this and it comes off slightly hostile in the first sentence or two. Not intended. Added my own emoticon. Just in case it's necessary.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
All I've said is buying advertising is not the same thing as buying supporters/customers/voters. Terrible products fail, even with good advertising. Amazing products often succeed with no advertising at all.
It's not *exactly* the same thing, and yet that is frequently how politicians, campaigners, and contributors view it: we need this much advertising in the mail, radio, TV, on the ground campaign workers, to get the votes we need in this area. If we don't, we're sunk!

Your stance just seems to handwave that away, "Well it's not as though they're buying supporters!"

Who do you think overwhelmingly, disproportionately benefits from that opinion? Is it the average Joe (insofar as he can be named), the guy holding down a $40K/yr job? How much advertising will *he* be able to indirectly buy? Sure, he can be effective if he's a damn rhetorical genius with great gimmicks and knows where to put his stuff on the web. But the guy nailing down the max individual contribution while also supporting PACs, he don't hafta be a genius. He just has to write a check, and his guy gets as much if not more exposure than the average guy's genius essay.

Of course this is known, which is why politicians court big donors. But...hey, it's not the same as buying supporters!

ETA: As for Ron Paul...OK, that's one Congressman. Out of hundreds and hundreds. Advertising 'helps'.

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Blayne Bradley
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Ron Paul also has years behind him of face recognition of advocating a fringe ideology, mostly from over the internet and just about unimpeachable consistency resulting in someone who does do well with fundraising from individual contributors but nevertheless lacks broad public appeal to win the elections.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
just about unimpeachable consistency
People keep saying this about Ron Paul as though it were an undeniable virtue. The foolishness of being too consistent has been noted by so many great thinkers, it's difficult to decide who to quote but I think this one is most apropos.

quote:
Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago. Bernard Berenson
An awful lot of major things have happened in the last 30 years, but none of it has changed Ron Paul's message one iota. Yes, that shows we can trust he believes what he says. But it shows an inability to learn from new data and adapt to the changing needs of society.

That kind of slavish devotion to any ideology, particularly one that is thoroughly untested like libertarianism, is not a virtue in a politician. A President is expected to solve real practical problems by working with thousands of people with different ideologies in congress, state and local governments, foreign countries, businesses, religions.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
As silly as I find the pressure that the group was placing on Lowes, I don't find giving in to that pressure a grievous enough crime to justify a boycott.

quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
Why not?

Let's assume that there's nothing really objectionable in the TV show in question. (I have no idea to think that there is, but I don't know nearly enough a out the show to have any kind of real opinion about it.) Given that, the choice for any person or company to advertise with that show is morally neutral. In this situation, we've got a company that has made a morally neutral decision for a bad reason, and did it in such an obvious way.

But the problem isn't that Lowe's has been spineless and has given into pressure from a group that it may or may not agree with. After all, the whole point of a boycott is to apply that sort of pressure to get them to change how they do things.

In the end, besides terrible PR about it, what Lowe's is really guilty of is guessing wrong about which group would cause them more of a headache and should be appeased.

I'm a little worried that these events will make companies even less likely to advertise with shows that could conceivably be perceived as controversial by some segment of the population. After all, if Lowe's had steered clear of this TV show from the start, there would be no story here.

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Bella Bee
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Or, perhaps they thought that a show about normal people living their boringly normal lives wouldn't be controversial? There are loads of shows like this - people with one interesting detail about themselves, like, for example, being a little person, showing how that detail fits with everyday life. Nobody's boycotting all of those.

Does putting 'Muslim' in the title automatically make something controversial? I guess we and Lowes just found out. I wonder how many really interesting shows don't even get off the drawing board, once the potential sponsors have been spoken to.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
All I've said is buying advertising is not the same thing as buying supporters/customers/voters. Terrible products fail, even with good advertising. Amazing products often succeed with no advertising at all.
It's not *exactly* the same thing, and yet that is frequently how politicians, campaigners, and contributors view it: we need this much advertising in the mail, radio, TV, on the ground campaign workers, to get the votes we need in this area. If we don't, we're sunk!

Your stance just seems to handwave that away, "Well it's not as though they're buying supporters!"

Who do you think overwhelmingly, disproportionately benefits from that opinion? Is it the average Joe (insofar as he can be named), the guy holding down a $40K/yr job? How much advertising will *he* be able to indirectly buy? Sure, he can be effective if he's a damn rhetorical genius with great gimmicks and knows where to put his stuff on the web. But the guy nailing down the max individual contribution while also supporting PACs, he don't hafta be a genius. He just has to write a check, and his guy gets as much if not more exposure than the average guy's genius essay.

Of course this is known, which is why politicians court big donors. But...hey, it's not the same as buying supporters!

ETA: As for Ron Paul...OK, that's one Congressman. Out of hundreds and hundreds. Advertising 'helps'.

Yeah, so... I don't disagree with anything you said here. In fact, earlier I even mentioned that I think the Super PAC is an interesting idea, because historically it has usually only been the individually wealthy who could muster enough name recognition via advertising to do well in a presidential election. In theory, a flat broke rhetorical genius who caught the attention of a Super PAC could have all of his advertising done by them (the rule is they don't coordinate, right? So maybe they take his tiny townhall appearances and YouTube videos a la Chris Christie and then they blast those clips all over the airwaves or something). Since there are so many famous politicians already in the game, I doubt a Super PAC is actually going to take that big a risk anytime soon, but it's an intriguing idea to me. And I bet it happens eventually.

Of course, the above idea once again confirms that I recognize that it's undeniable that a certain level of fundraising and advertising is necessary. I'm pretty sure I haven't actually said otherwise this whole thread, but you seem to think I have so maybe there's a place I implied it? If so, my apologies.

I do think that after a certain point advertising starts receiving diminishing returns. If Herman Cain had received the support of a new billion dollar Super PAC right before he dropped out, I don't think they would've been able to flood the airwaves enough to drown out the story being reported on every channel. Cain still would've dropped out. I'm similarly really skeptical that the previously mentioned Super PAC that has sided with Gingrich is going to be able to effectively counter the narrative.

Hey, one last thought re: diminishing returns. Today, presidential hopefuls spend more than ever on their campaigns. Are politicians today more popular than the ones, say, fifty or a hundred years ago? Do they get better voter turnout? Why or why not?

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AchillesHeel
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Jones, it still carries some of that "treat" trait that soda used to have, and they have a service where you can order soda from them with your choice of photo on the bottle. Got a twenty-four pack for my brother a couple of years ago with a picture of him standing next to his first car, and ever since any gift we try to think of is still judged against it.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Of course, the above idea once again confirms that I recognize that it's undeniable that a certain level of fundraising and advertising is necessary. I'm pretty sure I haven't actually said otherwise this whole thread, but you seem to think I have so maybe there's a place I implied it? If so, my apologies.

You didn't suggest it specifically-my thoughts on this subject stem largely from these words of yours:
quote:
Despite what boots said in another thread, you can't actually buy elections, all you can buy is ads. Your ads still need to convince people that you're the man for the job (or, less interestingly, that your opponent isn't the man for the job). I'm a big fan of dialogues, of arguments, of criticisms, of the free exchange of ideas. I think quality of ideas can overcome quantity, if presented well enough.

The thing is, you can't directly buy elections, it's true, at least not in our system which is monitored sufficiently. But you can buy ads...which, well, aren't guaranteed to buy an election but without which almost no politician anywhere is going to win against a politician who does use ads. In realistic terms, you can't buy elections. You have to buy ads, which buy elections.

You've even specifically acknowledged the very real power of advertising, but despite that the disproportionate ability of the wealthy to use advertising is somehow untroubling...because if a politician is a super-duper genius charismatic dynamo, he'll be able to overcome this handicap? It just seems like you're a bit all over the place on this.

----------------

quote:
Let's assume that there's nothing really objectionable in the TV show in question. (I have no idea to think that there is, but I don't know nearly enough a out the show to have any kind of real opinion about it.) Given that, the choice for any person or company to advertise with that show is morally neutral. In this situation, we've got a company that has made a morally neutral decision for a bad reason, and did it in such an obvious way.

It seems to me that you're skipping a step here-doesn't the intent behind any action color, at least to some extent, what quality of morality that action has? For instance, the choice to drink kool-aid or not is morally neutral. If a hood-sporting sheet-wearing Klansman demands that you don't drink kool-aid at all because that's what black people drink and you don't...well, doesn't that change things in that artificial (though in the list of bizarre demands made by racists, it's not too bizarre) example?

The thing that makes their decision immoral, quite aside from spineless and stupid in terms of trouble-making, is that they submitted to the demands of a bunch of bigoted schmucks. It would still be immoral, by the way, even if it would have cost them customers to keep the ads, even though they are a private enterprise and need to generate profit (not that you've suggested this is an excuse).

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shadowland
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:

The thing that makes their decision immoral, quite aside from spineless and stupid in terms of trouble-making, is that they submitted to the demands of a bunch of bigoted schmucks.

If the threat were realistic and the harm/loss were sufficiently substantial, I would most likely also submit to the demands of a bunch of bigoted schmucks. I'm pretty sure most everyone would as well. I don't think that in itself is immoral.

For example, I don't think most people would say that it would be immoral for Lowe's to pull their ads if, say, they were doing it as a result of the group having kidnapped the CEO's son and were threatening his life.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
If the threat were realistic and the harm/loss were sufficiently substantial, I would most likely also submit to the demands of a bunch of bigoted schmucks. I'm pretty sure most everyone would as well. I don't think that in itself is immoral.

Put another way, you would stop doing something because a bigot threatened you. Is it understandable? Well, sure, but that's not mutually exclusive with immorality.
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shadowland
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Is it understandable? Well, sure, but that's not mutually exclusive with immorality.

Right, I'm not saying they are mutually exclusive.

So you feel it is always immoral to submit to the demands of a bigot, regardless of the threat or any other circumstance?

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Rakeesh
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Always? Well, if he's got a gun to your head, perhaps not. I'm not sure. (It would certainly be understandable, though! I certainly would.)

If he says, "Do what I say or I'll make sure you (peacefully) lose money," I'm less unsure.

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shadowland
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
If he says, "Do what I say or I'll make sure you (peacefully) lose money," I'm less unsure.

Right. Which makes me feel that one important factor, if not the primary one, is the threat and potential loss involved rather than the mere act of caving in to someone else's demands.

In other words, the issue is not that they are selling out, but rather that they are selling out for such a seemingly low price.

<edit> Personally, I would limit my description of their action to 'cowardly' but not 'immoral.'

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Given that, the choice for any person or company to advertise with that show is morally neutral. In this situation, we've got a company that has made a morally neutral decision for a bad reason, and did it in such an obvious way.
You have some good points mph but I think its more complicated than that. There is, in my opinion, a serious problem with negative stereotypes about Muslims. There are an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and only a tiny fraction of them are terrorists. Anti-Muslim bigotry is sadly socially acceptable and I think that's a problem.

As Edmond Burke once said, ""All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." If the people who think anti-muslim bigotry is unacceptable do nothing, the bigots win.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I think there's a pretty big difference between doing evil and not actively opposing it. In that way, I am no pragmatist.

While it may have been a great thing for Lowe's to take the group to task and stand up for what was right, I don't think that the company had any moral obligation to fight that particular fight. Declining to do so was not evil.

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kmbboots
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Perhaps not evil but lacking in moral "compass" and spine. If a company is going to waft along with the wind produced by blowhards, it makes a certain amount of sense to demonstrate the the wind blows in more than one direction.
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The Rabbit
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You are misunderstanding my point. I don't think what Lowe's did was evil. I think the bigots who pressured Lowe's to drop its ads from the show were evil. If good people who think that kind of bigotry is unacceptable do nothing, the bigots win.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
While it may have been a great thing for Lowe's to take the group to task and stand up for what was right, I don't think that the company had any moral obligation to fight that particular fight. Declining to do so was not evil.
Huh, whereas my belief is that when issued a challenge by deceitful bigots (though when aren't they, of course), the moral obligation is to oppose them-or at the very least, not help them.

There are plenty of circumstances in which failure to do so makes it understandable and mitigates the fault, but I feel the obligation is still there. It's a bit different from choosing to remain aloof. That's not what they did-they chose not to have the fight by *surrendering*.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Of course, the above idea once again confirms that I recognize that it's undeniable that a certain level of fundraising and advertising is necessary. I'm pretty sure I haven't actually said otherwise this whole thread, but you seem to think I have so maybe there's a place I implied it? If so, my apologies.

You didn't suggest it specifically-my thoughts on this subject stem largely from these words of yours:
quote:
Despite what boots said in another thread, you can't actually buy elections, all you can buy is ads. Your ads still need to convince people that you're the man for the job (or, less interestingly, that your opponent isn't the man for the job). I'm a big fan of dialogues, of arguments, of criticisms, of the free exchange of ideas. I think quality of ideas can overcome quantity, if presented well enough.

The thing is, you can't directly buy elections, it's true, at least not in our system which is monitored sufficiently. But you can buy ads...which, well, aren't guaranteed to buy an election but without which almost no politician anywhere is going to win against a politician who does use ads. In realistic terms, you can't buy elections. You have to buy ads, which buy elections.

You've even specifically acknowledged the very real power of advertising, but despite that the disproportionate ability of the wealthy to use advertising is somehow untroubling...because if a politician is a super-duper genius charismatic dynamo, he'll be able to overcome this handicap? It just seems like you're a bit all over the place on this.

Sorry to seem all over the place, let me try to focus this down.

First of all, I don't see any way to viably keep advertising from being a resource available to the wealthy while still maximizing liberty. That might be a failing on my part! If so, hey, I'll gladly change my stance. But barring that, I tend to default to liking any plan that further maximizes freedom in this situation. I also hate the idea that one would have to be personally wealthy in order to generate the funding needed to advertise.

From an ideological standpoint, that's really the sum of my position. Through this lens, the Citizens United decision boils down to: people are even more free to spend their money however the hell they choose with regards to elections. My ideological side sees that and says "Yay, freedom that doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights!"

However, and this is probably why I seem to be bouncing around, Rakeesh... I'm not wholly an idealist. So, the pragmatic side of me is also analyzing the situation, and I'll freely admit that my pragmatic side tends to throw out theories and arguments with wild abandon, and then discard them when someone points out some glaring flaw I overlooked. That's what you've been doing, and that's rad. Thank you!

From a pragmatic standpoint, I'm still not convinced this is a catastrophe. Yes, advertising makes a difference. You keep focusing on how I think that if someone is truly amazing they will shine regardless of how much they have to spend on advertising, but from a pragmatic position I actually care a bit less about this than I do about the flip side: the possibility of a truly reprehensible candidate "buying" an election. If the dynamo can't convince people to give 'im funding he may not be that dynamic after all, but if a single mega corporation can buy an election for an evil nation-destroying human apocalypse that would have serious long-reaching repercussions.

But I think this is even less likely than the dynamo not finding his funding. A single scandal can undo a hundred million dollars of advertising in moments. I'm incredibly skeptical that anyone so awful that they would destroy our country is going to survive the vetting section of the election process, no matter how much money they have.

That was still probably all over the place. Meh, if you want perfect consistency, just read my first couple paragraphs and write me off as an anarcho-capitalist wacko. I'm very consistent in my sympathies towards that philosophy, so you wouldn't be too far off.

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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
That's not what they did-they chose not to have the fight by *surrendering*.

If someone wants to fight and comes at you swinging, you don't have an obligation to punch back. Not doing so isn't "surrendering."
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Rakeesh
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By what definition is it not surrendering? Not that I'm saying surrender is always immoral or even cowardly, mind.

And anyway, your comparison wasn't analagous anyway. The choice wasn't between 'take the hit myself' or 'fight back', it was 'take the hit and respond (not caving) or 'go along with bigotry and cave'.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
from a pragmatic position I actually care a bit less about this than I do about the flip side: the possibility of a truly reprehensible candidate "buying" an election
In Wisconsin, Russ Feingold -- one of the very few truly principled Senators we had -- was defeated by Ron Johnson after a truly ridiculous amount of money was donated to Johnson's campaign by corporations (mostly ones from out of state) in the wake of Citizens United. To avoid rocking the boat (and to maximize the value of his campaign ads, which blanketed the state in the final weeks), Johnson actually refused to take positions on anything; he would, when asked about what he'd do about the many horrible problems that he insinuated were plaguing the state, say that the problem was with a "bigger picture" and that no one would benefit from having a conversation about the details until he was elected and had a chance to look at the whole shebang.

Seriously. That was his campaign: "elect me, and I'll work out the details later."

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Dan_Frank
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Tom, that sounds pretty terrible, but I think our definitions of "truly reprehensible" in this context vary by quite a lot.

For example, despite holding rather a lot of congressmen in a sort of baseline level of contempt, I can't off the top of my head think of any that meet my above criteria for "truly reprehensible." Remember, the criteria I'm using is roughly: able to do serious and permanent harm to the country.

Incompetent or even corrupt politicians have been getting elected since long before Citizens United. Some of the most damaging laws to come about for this country in recent years, in my opinion, wouldn't have happened without support from nearly all of congress. For my pragmatism to overrule my "maximal freedom uber alles" idealism I would need to see a much more marked step down in quality, with a clear causative chain back to Citizens United.

I know you liked Russ, I've seen you say it many times before. I'm sorry that what you seem to have seen as the one honest guy left in congress got beaten by someone you think was a figurehead propped up by special interests. As a data set, though, I'm not sure how compelling it is.

(It also might be worth mentioning that you seem pretty strongly biased on the issue. A quick google search resulted in an article dated October of 2010 that detailed Johnson's stated positions on most of the typical major issues, and they all seemed to be standard tea party republican boilerplate.

I also found, for example, a video where someone is trying to get him to describe his "jobs plan" and he says he will cut spending. The person asking him seems to feel this is a non sequitur, because presumably she wants a comprehensive "jobs plan" to try and put the middle class back to work. Except most fiscal conservatives and conservative(Austrian) economists think that a plan like that is a terrible idea! Of course he won't offer up a plan like that. That's not quite the same thing as not having any position on stuff.

Basically, I just wonder how much your fondness for Russ and your contempt for conservatives colored your impression of that particular election.)

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Rakeesh
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quote:
...still maximizing liberty.
Maximizing liberty for who? Certainly not most Americans. The kinds of ideas you're expressing 'maximize liberty' most for the very wealthy individuals or corporations and businesses. Full stop. Some liberty is also gained by the rest of us, it's true, but again, real world here: advertising works, and all other things being equal, the more of it the better when it comes to persuading people to do *anything*, such as vote for someone.

You're absolutely right, advertising isn't the only thing needed. But if you've got two candidates, heck even of equal mediocrity let's say, but one has an extra 33% of the ads among their potential constituency...who's going to win? Be honest. The guy with more ads, every time. He won't win because his ideas are more effective, or because the other guy made a gaffe, he'll win because he managed to put his mediocrity in front of more people and, surprise, they picked him.

I think your pragmatic concern, as you put it, is misplaced. Someone outright buying an election isn't a problem we have to face in 21st century America. We used to, in places, but not anymore. But even if that *were* a valid fear, its mere existence wouldn't be grounds to simply brush aside the massive lesser problems we have with how we let our politicians run campaigns for *our* elections.

As for scandals having the potential to overthrow advertising's effectiveness, I'm really not sure I see how that's relevant. Again, the point is not that ads can get *anyone* into office.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
...still maximizing liberty.
Maximizing liberty for who? Certainly not most Americans. The kinds of ideas you're expressing 'maximize liberty' most for the very wealthy individuals or corporations and businesses. Full stop.
Rakeesh, legalizing gay marriage maximizes liberty for gay people. It doesn't maximize liberty for everyone, except insofar as everyone can choose to marry someone of their own gender if they want to. Ditto for, say, legalizing pot. Only the pot smokers (or potential pot smokers who were scared off by the illegality) actually experience increased liberty.

Nevertheless, I am an advocate for those things.

Fundamentally, saying "You can't spend all of your money making a TV spot where you tell people why you think Joe Blow would make a good president" is restricting liberty (to be clear, I freely acknowledge that it's doing it in a very small way). Yes, if you're setting some specific dollar cap on it, you are only restricting the liberty of people rich enough to be effected by that cap. I don't think that they are any more or less deserving of that freedom to choose how they want to spend their money than anyone else.

Out of curiosity, what would be your ideal campaign situation, Rakeesh? If you could make the laws, how would you handle it? I'm not trying to pick you apart or anything, I'm just genuinely curious because a lot of times you have really interesting ideas. [Smile]

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rakeesh, legalizing gay marriage maximizes liberty for gay people. It doesn't maximize liberty for everyone, except insofar as everyone can choose to marry someone of their own gender if they want to. Ditto for, say, legalizing pot. Only the pot smokers (or potential pot smokers who were scared off by the illegality) actually experience increased liberty.
Actually, it does. It's another step towards clearing out religion from government-and religion is the only real reason that stands on its own, so to speak, for prohibiting SSM-and that's good for everyone, even if they never ever marry or even look sexually at the same gender. As for pot, the liberty involved in ending a stupid, harmful drug policy speak for itself, I think.

quote:
Yes, if you're setting some specific dollar cap on it, you are only restricting the liberty of people rich enough to be effected by that cap. I don't think that they are any more or less deserving of that freedom to choose how they want to spend their money than anyone else.
Nonsense. We already decide how, when, and how much people can spend their money in this country, and rarely does anyone bat an eye. Keeping to this example, you can't for example pay someone to vote for you. You can't pay the employee of another company considering bids to value yours most. So on and so forth. As for how this would limit the rich, bear in mind they would *still* have an enormous advantage over the majority of the population in the even of capping campaign spending. They'd be able to spend the max more easily.

As for campaign financing ideas, oh, man, where to start. Total transparency on campaign contributions in all cases, for one, and not just on the contributions themselves but for the organizations soliciting them. That's just a start.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Fundamentally, saying "You can't spend all of your money making a TV spot where you tell people why you think Joe Blow would make a good president" is restricting liberty (to be clear, I freely acknowledge that it's doing it in a very small way). Yes, if you're setting some specific dollar cap on it, you are only restricting the liberty of people rich enough to be effected by that cap. I don't think that they are any more or less deserving of that freedom to choose how they want to spend their money than anyone else.
You are ignoring the big picture. Laws and governments are not the only things that restrict our liberty nor are they the most fearsome. Any powerful person or organization can restrict our liberty. The school yard bully controls people by intimidation and is thus a much larger threat to overall liberty than rules that restrict bullying. There are many types of power and if you are concerned about liberty, you need to be concerned about limiting all types of power not just government power.

Any concentration of power in a few hands threatens liberty. There are many types of power such as wealth, social connections, physical strength, knowledge, moral authority, legal authority and armaments. If those powers are distributed among many people, they can check and balance others to limit the abuse of power and maximize overall liberty. That's why the US founding fathers tried to build a separation of powers into the US system.

Wealth is one of the most readily abused types of power because the ability to control resources that wealth affords can be verily easily used to control people. The wealthy have been abusing their power since the dawn of time and restricting those abuses is one of the central reasons governments and laws were formed. Laws restricting commerce, contracts, property, and common resources like water constituted over half of the Code of Hammurabi.

Because economic power is one of the easiest types of power to abuse, it is critically important to that there is a strict separation between economic and legal power. When the wealthy can use their money to gain political power it endangers everyone's liberty.

Well designed laws, rules and regulations will actually increase overall liberty, even if they decrease the liberty of a few individuals. The loss of liberty that would result from restricting the use of money in political campaigns, is far less serious than the loss of liberty that results when you concentrate political power in the hands of the very wealthy.

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kmbboots
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Very well put, Rabbit.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Very well put, Rabbit.

Thanks!
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Scott R
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quote:
Wealth is one of the most readily abused types of power because the ability to control resources that wealth affords can be verily easily used to control people. The wealthy have been abusing their power since the dawn of time and restricting those abuses is one of the central reasons governments and laws were formed. Laws restricting commerce, contracts, property, and common resources like water constituted over half of the Code of Hammurabi.

Because economic power is one of the easiest types of power to abuse, it is critically important to that there is a strict separation between economic and legal power. When the wealthy can use their money to gain political power it endangers everyone's liberty.

Well designed laws, rules and regulations will actually increase overall liberty, even if they decrease the liberty of a few individuals.

Agreed so far.

But...

quote:
The loss of liberty that would result from restricting the use of money in political campaigns, is far less serious than the loss of liberty that results when you concentrate political power in the hands of the very wealthy.
...this worries me. How do you answer the idea that donations to a campaign are protected under the aegis of free speech?

I'd prefer to concentrate on corruption and strengthening sanctions against legislators who violate established ethics rather than limiting speech.

Alternatively, I'd consider the idea that corporations are not citizens, and cannot contribute to campaigns. Is that the kind of thing you're going for?

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Rakeesh
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quote:
...this worries me. How do you answer the idea that donations to a campaign are protected under the aegis of free speech?

I'd prefer to concentrate on corruption and strengthening sanctions against legislators who violate established ethics rather than limiting speech.

Would you agree one of the reasons we have trouble with flat-out corruption, as well as much less obvious beholden politicians, is at least partially due to the vast sums of money that can be contributed, and the way in which it can be contributed?

Another consideration: how much time do politicians spend seeking contributions? It's my understanding that this is a major part of campaigning, and we all know how much time politicians spend on that. We've structured our system such that large chunks of their time aren't spent going about our business, but rather seeking wealthy donors they need to survive.

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kmbboots
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What one can broadcast on TV is not unlimited - there are restrictions. What about restrictions - perhaps not of content - but of amount of TV ads per candidate or group?
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twinky
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
How do you answer the idea that donations to a campaign are protected under the aegis of free speech?

That's where you lose me, but the Supreme Court agreed with you 5-4.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
...this worries me. How do you answer the idea that donations to a campaign are protected under the aegis of free speech?
I have a pretty fundamental disagreement with equating regulations on what one can do with money with regulating free speech. I think it was a bad decision and one that endangers basic democratic values.

quote:
I'd prefer to concentrate on corruption and strengthening sanctions against legislators who violate a ethics rather than limiting speech.
I think that fails to deal with the central problem. As long as raising large amounts of campaign money is necessary (or perceived to be necessary) to win an election, candidates who appeal to the people with lots of money to donate will have a major advantage over candidates who appeal to people with little money. As the cost of political campaigns escalates, the problem get more and more severe. Even if we could completely eliminate direct corruption, the playing field simply isn't level. Candidates who appeal to the interests of the very wealthy will have a strong advantage over those who don't.

quote:
Alternatively, I'd consider the idea that corporations are not citizens, and cannot contribute to campaigns. Is that the kind of thing you're going for?
I think that would be a step in the right direction but that much more is needed to create a level playing field where political ideas win on their merits rather than the money behind them.

I think we should amend the constitution to clarify that limit liability corporations are not persons and do not have the rights guaranteed to persons in the constitution.

I think we should also amend the constitution to replace the electoral college with a direct popular vote and a nation wide primary held two months before the general election. And as long as I'm wishing, I'd amend the constitution to guarantee public campaign financing for all presidential candidates who could establish a minimum level of support via petition and permit strict limitation on all privately funded political advertising from one month before the primary until after the general election. Along side that, I'd support similar amendments to state constitutions regarding the the campaigns of senators and representatives along and anything that would prevent gerrymandering.

It's a radical proposal that has a snowflakes chance in hell of making beyond the interwebs, but I think it would make the US fundamentally more democratic and just.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
As for campaign financing ideas, oh, man, where to start. Total transparency on campaign contributions in all cases, for one, and not just on the contributions themselves but for the organizations soliciting them. That's just a start.

I agree with your start. [Smile] What's your middle? Your end?

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
...this worries me. How do you answer the idea that donations to a campaign are protected under the aegis of free speech?
I have a pretty fundamental disagreement with equating regulations on what one can do with money with regulating free speech. I think it was a bad decision and one that endangers basic democratic values.

So, I think there is a worthwhile distinction here that you aren't acknowledging. IANAL, but my understanding of the Citizens United decision is that it equates spending money on speech... with speech. Not just spending money. That is to say, it effects whether or not companies can spend their cash on political ads in the run up to an election. Fundamentally it does seem to me to be a sort of speech. Now, then we can point out that not all forms of speech are protected, and you certainly have a long list of legislation backing you up, so that's a valid point.

Still, it irks me when people say that Citizens United defines money as speech. It doesn't. It defines money spent on speech as speech.

PS: Rabbit I actually thought much of your earlier post about the balance of power really interesting, and don't want you to come away just hearing my nitpicks and squabbles. [Smile]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Still, it irks me when people say that Citizens United defines money as speech. It doesn't. It defines money spent on speech as speech.
I understand that distinction, I simply disagree. I don't think that reasonable regulations on how money can be spent on speech constitutes an infringement on free speech.

The first amendment has never been interpreted to protect all forms of expression without from any form of regulation. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that federal, state and local government can reasonably restrict the time, manner and place of free expression without violating the first amendment.

Restrictions on the time, manner and place designed to accomodate public convenience (such as traffic), conserve the environment and protect the administration of justice have all been found constitutional by the courts. Restricting spending on advertising during a window of time preceding an election is a restriction on the time and manner of speech, not its content. If it is allowable to restrict free expression to protect traffic flow, why isn't allowable to protect elections? Isn't the integrity of the democratic process more important than traffic?

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stilesbn
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Reaction to Lowe's seems a bit over blown. Here's how I see it happening.

At the end of a 3 hour long meeting.
Person 1: "...Alright we'll send out these notes to all of you and follow up in the next meeting. Is there anything else?"

Person 2: "Well we got this letter from some group, Florida Family or something and they seem to have an issue with our sponsorship of a TV show."

Person 1: "Oh really, what show?"

Person 2: "All-American Muslim"

Person 1: "What's that, I've never heard of it?"

Person 2: "It's one of those TLC shows, it doesn't get all that many viewers. We're not spending a ton and it probably doesn't generate all the much advertising revenue"

Person 1: "Hm, ok drop the show and have the PR dept send out some statement."

Enter PR Dept fail.

I don't think the show was big enough for anyone to care really and I doubt anyone gave a second thought to politics or that there would be a huge backlash for a small unknown TV show on TLC.

I do think their PR dept should have done better. Isn't predicting public reaction their job or something? It seems that saying nothing would have been a better idea.

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