Eugene Volokh reports on a decision of the Washington Supreme Court holding that radio talk show hosts' support of a ballot proposition does not constitute a political contribution. Municipalities opposed to the ballot propositionor, to put it another way, greedy for more tax revenuegot a preliminary injunction blocking the talk show hosts from speaking out on the issue. A concurring opinion sets this out even more starkly.
This is just another example of liberals' seeking to block free speech. Other examples include campus speech codes and the proposal to revive the Fairness Doctrine, with the clear intention of stamping out radio political talk shows, most of which are conservative. I am old enough to remember when liberals were our society's most active champions of free speech. Now they seem to be, too often, its staunchest opponents.
Wanting Presidents to Succeed
The following is from an E-mail sent out by Gene Steuerle of the Urban Institute. I don't believe I've ever met Steuerle, but I gather he's recognized as a first-class expert on government finances and the long-range implications of our Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. Here it is:
"THE GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE - Gene Steuerle
WANTING GEORGE W. BUSH TO SUCCEED
Watching presidents go into free fall near the end of their tenure makes me quite nervous. Not so much for their sake, but for our own.
Several presidents ago, while still early in my years as a Treasury public servant, I underwent such a change in bosses at the top. We were called on once again to write memos as a primer to one in a long string of novices—as Treasury secretaries almost always are—on the department's role, the issues that would confront him, and possible options for legislative action.
My first instinct was to ask myself why I should care. Then it quickly struck me that the person in the office was not the issue at hand. I had the privilege of working for the American people. That was my commitment. Whether he had earned my respect or not, he deserved my support. I wanted the Treasury secretary to succeed.
So it must be with any president. All of us should want our leader to succeed. I have watched us time and again put presidents on a pedestal, crown them, and—within a few years—tear them apart and drag them down. The news media goads us by thriving on controversy to attract viewers and readers. This is not, however, a recipe for good governance.
It doesn't matter whether a president is popular or brings glory to his office. It doesn't matter whether he has failed in the past. Wanting a president to succeed does not mean voting for him, nor does it mean abdicating any belief that others might do a better job.
There's a danger in wishing for a president's failure. Forget partisanship for a moment or who might be the next officeholder. Our political parties' inability to work together now toward common goals only makes it harder for them to work together later—almost no matter how the next election and the one after that turn out.
Problems left to fester intensify. Systems about to blow up—whether they be related to tax, health, pensions, retirement, homeland security, or anything else—are seldom made better by explosions. Think of problems exposed in New Orleans before Katrina—the inadequacy of the levees and lack of insurance for buildings in high-risk disaster-prone areas. Should Democrats be happy that these failures happened on a Republican president's watch? Or Republicans rejoice if a Democratic mayor is blamed? Such self-serving doesn't serve the common good.
Blaming or delighting in leaders' failure isn't just a policy game. Real people stand to get hurt. Even minor policies inadequately designed, implemented, or enforced can harm thousands of people and cost billions of dollars. And victims of policy failures should not be callously written off as nothing more than collateral damage in a bigger political fight.
Nor does it make good sense to give Icarus's temporary wings to broken or unsustainable policies—along the way misleading those who plan their lives around such policies. Think about Americans retiring today in their early 60s, often preparing inadequately for the last years of their lives when they may well be in their 90s, and yet relying on unknown Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid long-term care benefits since these programs must be reformed. Or ponder the plight of the many health care workers who will be bounced around once an unsustainable health policy structure is taken off artificial life support. Or consider the thousands of people already losing their homes because some egregious forms of lending in the subprime mortgage market escaped the oversight required for traditional lenders.
The point is simple. We should want our president, and all our elected officials, to succeed. History counsels that we're not going to get good government simply by waiting to appoint another person Queen (or King) for a Day."
"Of the 14 prime ministers I have known since David Lloyd George, none has shown more eagerness to get his hands on the job than Gordon Brown. He has pushed harder than any of them. I doubt if he realises what a handicap this will be when he takes office later this year."
The writer is W. F. Deedes of the Daily Telegraph, who is 93. He covered the Abyssinian War in company with Evelyn Waugh, whose novel Scoop, based on that war, is the definitive novel on journalism. The 14 prime ministers he knew presumably include:
|David Lloyd George||1916-1922|
|Stanley Baldwin||1923-1924, 1924-1929, 1935-1937|
|Winston Churchill||1940-1945, 1951-1955|
|Alec Douglas Home||1963-1964|
|Harold Wilson||1964-1970, 1974-1976|
You may notice two lacunas, 1922-1923 and 1924, 1929-35. The prime minister in 1922-23 was Andrew Bonar Law, who stepped down because of illness in May and died in October. Deedes, who was 9 when he stepped down, is obviously unlikely to have had an opportunity to meet him. The prime minister for most of 1924 and then 1929-35 was Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labor prime minister. I am guessing, pretty confidently, that Deedes didn't know him because he was unlikely at a young age to have known a Labor politician and because he was off in Ethiopia covering the war there in 1936 and MacDonald died in 1937.
It's an impressive list. I wonder how many other Britons have known 14 prime ministers. Perhaps the queen has; she certainly met Chamberlain and perhaps Baldwin as a girl, and would have met Attlee during or after the war; 10 of those on that list have served under her and conferred with her once a week for a period now of 54 years. Similarly, Queen Victoria knew every prime minister from Melbourne to Salisbury (12 of them in 64 years) and must have known several others who served before her reign (Wellington) or after (Balfour).
Deedes was a member of Parliament himself from 1945 to 1974, a relatively brief 29-year interval in a 93-year life; he served as a minister without portfolio. Later, he was editor of the Daily Telegraph. He writes regularly for the Telegraph still. Here is a sample of his writing, from a column written after the July 2005 London tube bombings, headlined: "The opportunity is with us again to be British and to be proud of it." Here are the last two paragraphs:
"The reputation we have in distant lands, I have learned in my travels, is higher than we give ourselves. They admire us for our social stability, our parliamentary and diplomatic experience, for fair play, for tolerance, for a willingness to help lame dogs over stiles, as well as for some of the qualities Shakespeare sang about in his plays. Some of these qualities have taken a bit of a bruising of late, but they are still there. The "in yer face" style is a silly, passing phase we shall move on from.
During the last 200 years of relatively modern history, we have suffered all manner of vicissitudes, made our share of mistakes, pulled round, remained much as we always have been, and, when the call came, respondedjust as our policemen and policewomen did when London was under attack this month. It's our durability they admire in other lands. We've always been a rude island race. We're survivors. That's what makes me proud to be British."
I hope that makes you want to read the whole thing.